A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1981)

American Conservatory TheatreChristmas Carol-A-Thon 2017 continues! 

This is a filmed presentation of the stage play by San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre and originally aired December 21st, 1981 on the Arts Channel.

The adaptation was by Dennis Powers and Laird Williamson and starred William Patterson as Ebenezer Scrooge. The only real mistake this Carol makes is that it’s one of those versions that reads WAY too much into Scrooge’s relationship with his father, even making up beatings that are never mentioned in the Dickens original. Other than that this production features some very nice touches.

During the Christmas Past segment Young Scrooge (Thomas Harrison) and Belle (Janice Hutchens) are ice-skating under starlit skies while having their breakup scene, which livens up this often tedious bit of business. When the Ghost of Christmas Present (Lawrence Hecht) shows Scrooge the  monstrous children Ignorance and Want the spirit’s already emotion-charged dialogue is amped up even more by a clever insertion of lines from Dickens’ story The Haunted Man.

Indicating the feral boy Ignorance the ghost’s additional dialogue goes: “Mark me. From every seed of evil in that boy a field of ruin shall grow that shall be gathered in and garnered up and sown again in many places til all the Earth is overrun with bitter strife.”

And while we’re on the subject of the boy and girl called Ignorance and Want I’ll take this opportunity to address the way in which the perpetual fighting between Liberals and Conservatives even spills over to A Christmas Carol. American Liberals, who are every bit as pompously convinced that they are THE moral models for the rest of us as the worst Christian Conservatives are, often try to exploit the appearance of Ignorance and Want by claiming that portion of the Carol condemns Conservatives alone.

Typically, the self-satisfied American Left doesn’t get the part that applies to them. Among the Ghost of Christmas Present’s lines about Ignorance and Want are the words “Deny it! Slander those that tell it ye”, which apply to Conservative downplaying of the human suffering caused by poverty and their tendency to dismiss people as “bleeding hearts” if they dwell on that suffering.

The ghost’s next words “Admit it for your factious purposes and make it worse” apply to Liberals and the way they pay lip service to caring about “the poor” strictly for political purposes, demagoguing their way into office by pretending they and only they care about combatting poverty and ignorance.

You’ll notice, however, that financially comfortable Liberals are as snobbish and callous toward the actual working class as the wealthiest Conservatives are. And their political exploitation of the poor often makes their plight worse.

Plus Liberals often try to pretend that Jacob Marley is supposed to be a negative Jewish sterotype even though the novel specifically says he’s a Christian like Scrooge. Certainly Dickens’ depiction of Fagin in Oliver Twist was a derogatory Jewish caricature so feel free to pile on him for that but the PC police are just being their usual self-serving, hyper-sensitive selves when they claim Marley is a Jew.

In the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come segment that spirit (Nicholas Kaledin) shows Scrooge Tiny Tim’s actual funeral in a scene unique to this stage adaptation. The scene incorporates lines from Dickens’ The Life of Our Lord, specifically the part about an innocent child being “the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” on through “the Angels are all children.”

Kaledin does double-duty as Nephew Fred, Raye Birk portrays Marley’s Ghost and Thomas Oglesby rounds out the major roles as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Overall this is far superior to the Guthrie Theatre’s televised stage version from 1982 and even to the 1984 Kent State version.

FOR DOZENS MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE:  https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2013. 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. 

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2 Comments

Filed under A CHRISTMAS CAROL

2 responses to “A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1981)

  1. Garrett Kieran

    This is one of the special versions I’ve been wanting to see for a few years now. From what I’ve read about it, it sounds extremely interesting. I have seen one photo from it, with Scrooge looking puzzledly at a group of men reading newspapers. From the future sequence would be my guess. And, it’s a rare example of a mustachioed Scrooge, too.

    As a matter of note, I have seen the Guthrie Theater version mentioned above. It was satisfying enough on the spur of the moment, with a few unique touches to boot, but in the final analysis, it was a little too stagy and slow moving to really score.

    • I agree about the Guthrie Theater version – especially when they switch back to Dickens and family at the end. If I was at a live performance of that I’d have been impatient to just see it wrapped up so I could LEAVE already.

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