SCROOGE (1970)

Scrooge 1970 2Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2014 continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at the 1970 musical version that starred Albert Finney. The only – and dubious – advantage to having such a young man portraying Ebenezer Scrooge is that he could realistically play Scrooge’s younger self in the Christmas Past scenes.

Big deal. In reality it meant that the portions with Belle get dragged out even longer and more excruciatingly than they usually do, just to take advantage of the fact that for once it’s not a different actor playing the younger Ebenezer. Again – big deal.  

Yet I like this version much more than I should. A rerun of it late one Christmas night was my first exposure to it years ago when I was first getting into the multiple versions of A Christmas Carol. That has probably colored my feelings about it all these years because I have to admit when I read negative reviews of this production I laugh like hell and nod my head in agreement at all the bashing it gets … yet I still like it for some reason.

Scrooge 1970Alec Guinness makes an entertaining Marley’s Ghost and plays him with a dark impishness especially in the Christmas Yet to Come section when this adaptation throws in a scene depicting the late Scrooge’s arrival in hell. Suzanne Neve plays the Belle that I despise the most because of her expanded screen time.

Edith Evans plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, making this one of those rare Carols that takes advantage of Dickens’ description of this Ghost’s androgynous nature by casting a woman in the role. Kenneth More makes a terrific Ghost of Christmas Present, helped by the fact that this version introduces him surrounded by as much splendor and plenty as Dickens described in the novel.

Nephew Fred is portrayed by Michael Medwin in an adequate way and Laurence Naismith shines as possibly the best Fezziwig of them all. He and Mrs Fezziwig sing one of the few catchy songs from this musical, December the 25th. (Sing) A Christmas Carol and Father Christmas are the only other truly hummable tunes from this oddly bland musical, outside of the mammoth showstopper.

That showstopper is, of course, Thank You Very Much, sung by Anton Schizoid Man Rodgers. Rodgers plays this Carol’s made-up character Tom Jenkins and gets to do two different renditions of this contagiously catchy song. It stands out SO much from all the other numbers in this musical that it almost seems like a lost song from Oliver! rather than a piece from Scrooge.

Well, those are the good elements of this movie. Here are just a few of the bad elements:

Scrooge 1970 3* Finney’s eccentric decision to deliver all his lines as Scrooge as if he’s Michael Palin’s Gumby character from Monty Python.

* The way most of the songs are either unmemorable or – even worse – annoying. No matter how many times I watch Scrooge I still wind up fast-forwarding through all the songs except the ones I mentioned above.

* This film features one of the wimpiest Bob Cratchits EVER and one of the most nauseatingly saccharine Tiny Tims.  

* Scrooge unnecessarily moves the story from 1843 up to the 1860’s just so Scrooge can dress up like Thomas Nast’s depiction of Santa Claus during his morning after celebration. This adds nothing whatsoever to the proceedings and does not enhance the story at all.

* The omission of Ignorance and Want is a sign that the filmmakers just didn’t “get” A Christmas Carol.

For fanatics like me watching this Carol is a no-brainer, but casual viewers may not have the patience to wade through all its deficiencies.


© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 




10 responses to “SCROOGE (1970)

  1. I’m a big Alec Guinness fan and I adore him in this!

  2. Wow! I finally found someone else who has seen this one! Awesome!

  3. Garrett Kieran

    I have to respectfully disagree. I actually think this is one of the best adaptations ever. Plus, we have to remember that not all musicals are done the exact same way. In this case, the songs were not meant to be huge mainstream hits. They were composed by the same guy who wrote the screenplay, and they were meant to simply keep the story going.

  4. Pretty awesome! I may check this version out!

  5. I couldn’t take this many versions of one story.

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