Time for another post in my annual orgy of entries on various versions of THE Christmas tale. The Charles Dickens classic has a certain unquenchable charm that ensures it will continue to be adapted for at least another few hundred years.
SKINFLINT (1979) – Skinflint is known to me and my fellow Carol-Geeks as “the country- western version”. This made-for- tv musical is so chock- full of stars that the Country Music Hall of Fame actually offers screenings of this film every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m serious. My late mother was, unfortunately for me when I was a teenager, a country music fan so, strange as it may seem, I actually know who the singers in this flick are. This version of the Carol is set in fictional Flint City, Tennessee, a town dominated by the financial pull of banker Cyrus Flint, played by Hoyt Axton.
Naturally Cyrus Flint is the Scrooge stand- in and Axton is supported by plenty of other figures cast for their singing ability, not their thespian skill. Stuttering Mel Tillis plays Dennis Pritchett, the Bob Cratchitt character, Lynn Anderson plays his wife and Larry Gatlin (of the Gatlin Brothers and yes, it’s hellish actually knowing things like that) portrays Flint’s nephew, called Roger instead of Fred. Other country singers fill most of the other significant roles, too, with Tom T. Hall as the ghost of Flint’s dead partner Jacob Burley, Barbara Mandrell as Scrooge/Flint’s lost love, Dottie West as his sister, Danny Davis as the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Statler Brothers as the Flint City Four.
The Tiny Tim stand- in was called “TJ” and was played by a young man named Steven Lutz who never appeared in anything else, before or since. Oddly, Martha Raye portrays a Ghost of Christmas Past whose character seems to have been written for someone more like Minnie Pearl. For trivia buffs, Dave Madden (Reuben Kincaid from The Partridge Family) and Julie Gregg (Sonny Corleone’s wife in The Godfather) have supporting roles. Some reviewers mistakenly dump on the way the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is portrayed in this telefilm, since he’s played (by David Bond) as a very spooky figure. Those other reviewers, who obviously aren’t B-movie host geeks like I am, don’t see how the figure seems to be a cutesy tribute to Nashville’s own late- night movie hosts of the past like the Phantom of the Opry and others.
Despite my earlier jokes, I don’t hate country music and I can say that Skinflint is a very enjoyable adaptation of the Carol with a cast of singers who do well enough in the acting portions to make this a nice, charming change of pace for Carol-A- Thon participants.
FOR MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/
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