Time for another post in Balladeer’s Blog’s 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. 

Mr Scrooge was originally broadcast on December 21st, 1964 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It runs just an hour and stars Cyril Ritchard as Ebenezer Scrooge and the very appropriately named Eric Christmas as Marley’s Ghost. As with the 1978 Canadian telefilm Scrooge the budget is very tight on this production, but even with that AND the fact that Mr Scrooge is in black & white I can definitely say this 1964 venture is more touching and has more of a festive air to it than the 1978 version.

Cyril Ritchard was famed for playing Captain Hook to Mary Martin’s Peter Pan on Broadway and plays a Scrooge who is almost uniquely aristocratic. Think George C Scott’s portrayal crossed with a suave James Bond villain and you’ve got Ritchard’s Scrooge. The low budget and short running time result in each of the three Christmas Ghosts only transporting Scrooge to one location each during their visits, so I’d have eliminated the fairly bland songs to allow for more expansive storytelling.

The best part of this version of the Carol would be the depiction of said ghosts. We viewers get three of the most memorable phantasmal visitors from any presentation this side of Rich Little’s. The Ghost of Christmas Past rides a penny-farthing bicycle (insert your own Prisoner joke here) and has Scrooge ride with him back in time. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a drunken British soldier who seems equal parts Dudley Moore in Arthur and Peter O’Toole in My Favorite Year. The biggest visual treat (and trick) is the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, a decapitated spectre whose eeriness is enhanced by the fact that he carries his head under his arm. The creepy  image this presents more than makes up for the fact that this is one of those Carols that unfortunately has this usually silent ghost speak.

About the only complaint I have, aside from the short running time and its resulting “rushed” feel, is the fact that the creative team behind this effort didn’t make the Ghost of Christmas Past a female figure. In the novel Dickens describes that spirit as being of indeterminate gender, so it’s amazing how many versions of the Carol fail to exploit this way of providing a major female role that doesn’t feel forced. Overall, though, Mr Scrooge is pretty enjoyable and if forced to rank it on a scale from one to ten I’d give it a seven. 




29 responses to “CHRISTMAS CAROL- A-THON 2011: MR SCROOGE (1964)

  1. Woman

    So if you had to pick a character, which character are you most like? A head shrink friend of mine once said we like movies because we find something of ourselves in them. I argued till I was blue in the face disagreeing.

    *shudders* creepy when they have their heads under their arms!!!!!

  2. I would say I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present. How about you?

  3. Woman

    Now that is curious!!! Why do you say that?

    I am more used to asking questions… I do not have an answer prepared!!! Now this is the question I’ll have in my head all day!!! I shall return and fill you in!!

  4. I’ve just always been struck by that image of the Ghost surrounded by plenty and I’ve mentioned in my Norse Mythology list that images of the god Frey creeped into images of this Ghost as well as Santa Claus.

  5. Well put! The ghosts sound very unique in this one!

  6. Superb blog! This one and Chrsitmas is Cummin Uptown are my favorite of these so far.

  7. Excellent! Never knew so many versions of ACC existed!

  8. Wow! I thought I saw every version of this but I was wrong!

  9. I think this one sounds too dull.

  10. Very cool movie! So many Christmas Carols!

  11. Cool ghosts in that one dude.

  12. I never knew Canada did so many versions.

  13. I cant believe the way u find all of these different people doing A Christmas Carol

  14. This one sounds kind of too quick.

  15. Odd ghosts in this one.

  16. Geri

    Just came across this old thread about your Christmas Carol-a-thon.
    My family are huge Scrooge rans.
    We do what we call Scrooge-a-palooza. (Sims, Stewart, Hordern, Magoo, Owens, Fagan, Scott, Hicks, Rathbone, March, Carrey, Finney….) watching them throughout the season.
    Last night we enjoyed the somewhat rushed but enjoyable and well-acted BBC version w/ Hordern and L Mesuir [sp?]
    Ive been searching for the Cyril Ritchard version for a couple years.
    Can you suggest some avenues to explore, any way I might acquire a copy of it?

  17. I came across your CHRISTMAS CAROL- A-THON 2011: MR SCROOGE (1964) | Balladeer’s Blog website and loved it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s