Tag Archives: Christmas Carol-A-Thon

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2020)

christm 2020A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2020) – Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2021 comes to a close with this review of the criminally underrated version of A Christmas Carol that was released last year. This production is easily one of the most beautiful adaptations of the Dickens classic.

The director was Jaqui Morris and the screenplay was crafted by David Morris utilizing almost nothing but Dickens’ own words from the novel. In this boldly creative non-musical presentation each character had their dancing performed by a professional dancer while their dialogue was voiced by professional thespians.

sian phillipsAnd what thespians! The voice of Andy Serkis is heard, in addition to those of Sian Phillips, who apparently will never die, and Leslie Caron, whom I thought had already died. Serkis provides the dialogue for Marley’s Ghost and Old Joe. Phillips is the narrator whose wonderful performance ties it all together and Caron provides the voice for the Ghost of Christmas Past.

A Christmas Carol is presented here as if it will be a puppet show put on by a family of entertainers but instead of actual puppets, professional dancers act out the story. In the same way that a ballet features superb dancing set to music, this dancing is set to narration and dialogue from the Dickens novel. Continue reading

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AND STILL MORE LOST CHRISTMAS CAROLS FROM EARLY TELEVISION

Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues! My previous three examinations of “lost” Carols went over so well here is one more blog post about them before the big wrap-up tomorrow with a different Carol.  

bransby williamsA CHRISTMAS CAROL (1950) – This production of A Christmas Carol was shown on the BBC on December 25th and December 27th, 1950. Bransby Williams starred as Ebenezer Scrooge, John Ruddock played Bob Cratchit with Robert Cawdron as Nephew Fred.

As for the ladies, Shirley Hose, Patricia Fryer and Barbara Murray appeared as Belinda Cratchit, Fan and Belle. The Cecil Sharp Folk Dance Society also performed. Continue reading

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MS SCROOGE (1997)

ms scroogeMS SCROOGE (1997) – Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon is fast approaching its finale. This time around I’m reviewing Ms Scrooge, a Hallmark TV movie starring the revered actress Cicely Tyson as Ebenita Scrooge. 

Tyson is easily the best thing about this production and she towers over everyone trying to share the screen with her. Ms Scrooge would have had more impact if they had surrounded Cicely with other big names, but even as it is it’s still pretty enjoyable.

cicely tysonThe main distraction in this telefilm is the one that afflicts many other attempts to set A Christmas Carol in more modern times – employers cannot, and for decades haven’t been allowed to, treat their employees the way that Scrooge treats Bob Cratchit in the original story. Some modern adaptations avoid the problem by just making vague references to Ebenezer’s merciless running of their business, and in my opinion that works the best. Unfortunately this Hallmark presentation constantly takes you out of the story with blatantly illegal conduct by Scrooge.  

As Ms Scrooge rolls along a few elements indicate that the creative team really gets the Dickens story, while others indicate that they have no clue. Same ol’ same ol’ for most Carol adaptations.   Continue reading

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THE READ-ALONG CHRISTMAS CAROL (1995)

Fezziwig's Christmas Party

Fezziwig’s Christmas Party

Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues!

It’s the time of year when I examine countless adaptations of the Dickens classic from television, movies, radio and elsewhere! As always new versions will be sprinkled in with the old standards.

Here is a look at the 1995 home video Read-Along Christmas Carol.  This version is just 50 minutes long and is ideal for youngsters learning how to read or for the hearing-impaired to watch. Continue reading

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CAROL’S CHRISTMAS (2021)

carol's christmasCAROL’S CHRISTMAS (2021) – Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this independent flick filmed in Las Vegas for $500,000.00 Special thank you to reader Lee Anne, who in the past recommended 2nd Chance For Christmas, a fun Christmas Carol variation. At the other extreme, Lee Anne wryly recommended Carol’s Christmas, a ridiculous venture that sucks so badly it’s not even So Bad It’s Good.

This was written and directed by David S Womack, who apparently felt he could be “deep” in treating us to A Very Rian Johnson Christmas by having our main character Carol Scrooge get shot to death at the end by Fred, who is her stalker in this film, not Scrooge’s nephew.

Oh, did I subvert expectations by not adding a spoiler warning like I usually do? Well then, I must be a creative genius by the standards of Carol’s Christmas. After all, simply doing something unexpected is brilliant, right? Something you WILL expect is that Amy Pascal’s name shows up in the closing credits. 

masc graveyard smallerRegular readers know I’m open to all kinds of dark interpretations of A Christmas Carol, but unlike efforts like the year 2000 Brazilian film in which Scrooge is a drug dealer, Carol’s Christmas is not a flawed but artful dive into a holiday story which gets distorted by grim realities.

No, the overwhelming majority of the movie plays out as a modern day Las Vegas version of the familiar tale, right up through Scrooge’s morning after conversion scene. Carol Scrooge never gets to make things right, however, because as soon as she sets foot outside her door Christmas morning, Fred is waiting and shoots her to death at close range for always rejecting his requests for a date.

It’s the sort of childish twist you could overlook from a teenage filmmaker who thinks they’re being artistic by doing this. Actually, it’s as pointless as producing a modern day adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, but instead of the tragic couple killing themselves at the end they whip out weapons and kill off the supporting cast. Continue reading

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CHRISTMAS CAROL WITH THE RUFUS ROSE MARIONETTES (1948)

Rufus Rose working on one of his handmade puppets.

Rufus Rose working on one of his handmade puppets.

Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues! This version of the Dickens classic featured beautifully crafted marionettes as all of the characters. It’s a shame this baby was in black & white since the costumes for the marionettes could have really dazzled in color I’ll bet. It also makes you wonder why more puppet versions of the Yuletide tale weren’t mounted during the Golden Age of Television. 

ABC broadcast this holiday treat on December 24th, 1948 when televisions were still comparatively rare. Manipulation of marionettes is not easy but the legendary Rufus Rose Marionettes were the perfect choice for the task in that era. Rufus, best known as Howdy Doody’s off-camera operator directed this program along with his wife Margo. Continue reading

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BR’ER RABBIT’S CHRISTMAS CAROL – 1992

brer-rabbits-christmas-carolBR’ER RABBIT’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992) – Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues! Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, Br’er Bear, Br’er Gator and many other characters created by Joel Chandler Harris are featured in this animated version of the Dickens tale.

Br’er Rabbit’s Christmas Carol is my favorite out of all the versions which present A Christmas Carol as the framework of a Mission Impossible/ Leverage “con job” to make a greedy character change their ways. To nobody’s surprise, Br’er Fox is the Scrooge stand-in who requires a wakeup call.

brer-rabbits-christmas-carol-2All the characters live in a town in the American South, where a charity stage production of A Christmas Carol is being performed, with the proceeds going to benefit the terribly ill Timmy Mouse. No, not “Br’er Timmy” or anything like that, just Timmy Mouse as our Tiny Tim stand-in.

Br’er Fox has no time for silly fiction and is completely unfamiliar with the Dickens Christmas classic. That fact gives Br’er Rabbit the idea to work with his friends to instill some holiday spirit into Br’er Fox, who refuses to help Timmy Mouse and charges the other animals exorbitant prices for the firewood he sells. If they can’t afford to pay, they go cold.   Continue reading

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL: MORE LOST TV VERSIONS

Balladeer’s Blog’s Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2021 continues with another look at lost Carol versions from early television. For the previous look click HERE.

john carradineA CHRISTMAS CAROL (1947) – Yet another Christmas Carol version produced by the long-gone Dumont Network. This one aired live on December 25th, 1947 and starred John Carradine as Ebenezer Scrooge. According to Variety the broadcast was simulcast in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. There were 22 cast members and 12 sets. 

           The one and only Eva Marie Saint made her television debut in this production. Bernard Hughes also appeared in this Carol which costarred Ray Morgan as Nephew Fred, who did double duty as the narrator. A young David Carradine was in the cast, by some accounts as a Cratchit child but not Tiny Tim.

           Variety panned this program, calling it “stiff and formal” with a “slow, drawn-out opening” which “became tedious.” The publication also trashed John Carradine’s performance as Scrooge, saying he “lacked conviction” and that “He was too ready to be kind – never the nasty, selfish, money-grubbing tyrant of Dickens.”      Continue reading

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A CAROL CHRISTMAS (2003)

A Carol ChristmasA CAROL CHRISTMAS (2003) – Here’s another entry in Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon. This version is one of the many that tries mining laughs out of setting the Dickens classic in the modern age. These adaptations have varying degrees of success and on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this effort a 6.5.

A Carol Christmas isn’t trying to be the most touching or the funniest rendition of A Christmas Carol, it’s just a pleasant, fluffy diversion for the Christmas season. Tori Spelling stars as Carol Cartman, a daytime hostess like Jenny Jones, Oprah and so many others. As the Scrooge figure Spelling is selfish, mean-spirited and abuses her staff, especially her assistant Roberta, the Bob Cratchit role.

Roberta (Nina Siemaszko) is a struggling single mother caught up in a custody battle for her version of Tiny Tim in a novel departure from the usual Cratchit family pathos. 

Dinah Manoff portrays the ghost of Carol’s late aunt and manager Marla. Aunt Marla was a driven “show-biz mom” type whose monomaniacal, cold-hearted drive was passed on to Carol as she forced the girl into a show business career she never really wanted. Because of this Marla is cursed in a Jacob Marley manner and has come to warn her niece that she faces the same fate unless she changes her ways. Continue reading

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL GOES WRONG (2017)

Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2021 rolls along here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at a very good comedic rendition of the Dickens classic.

christmas carol goes wrongA CHRISTMAS CAROL GOES WRONG (2017) – The players from Great Britain’s Mischief Theater Company strike again in their guise as the Cornley Polytechnic Amateur Dramatic Society. After the absolute disaster they made of their 2016 production of Peter Pan (see Peter Pan Goes Wrong), the Society were banned from the BBC.

Undeterred, the troupe take over a live broadcast of A Christmas Carol starring Derek Jacobi. They do this via an all-out commando raid hilariously carried out through action movie cliches like the kind of wire work Tom Cruise has done in multiple Mission Impossible films.

christmas c g wFrom there the Society mount their own production with their highly flawed but immensely likable players, highlighted by Chris (Henry Shields), Annie (Nancy Zamit), Robert (Henry Lewis) and others. Naturally, a LOT goes wrong.

The iconic Diana Rigg, like Jacobi, plays herself as the narrator and is the fictional aunt of Society player Sandra, who is portrayed by actress Charlie Russell. Continue reading

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