Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues!
THE MERCURY THEATER PRESENTS A CHRISTMAS CAROL – In 1938, the same year as the Mercury Theater’s legendary War of the Worlds radio broadcast, came this presentation of the Dickens classic.
By December 23rd, the date of the Christmas Carol broadcast, the radio show had gained a sponsor and was technically called Campbell Playhouse, but the Mercury Theater affiliation was still well-known.
I prefer the 1938 Mercury Theater version to the 1939 version. In 1938 Orson Welles narrated AND played Ebenezer Scrooge, while in 1939 Welles narrated but the venerable Lionel Barrymore, in poor health, limped along as Scrooge. It’s not Barrymore’s fault, of course, but that is why the 1939 version edits down Scrooge’s lines so much to spare Lionel. Filler material was thrown in at the end to pad out the on-air performance since so much was cut. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog continues its annual orgy of versions of the Dickens classic as Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2019 resumes!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984) – Don’t be misled by the 1984 date, this is neither the George C Scott version NOR the French TV version which I first reviewed years ago. This is a taped stage performance that aired on Ohio Public Television station WNEO on December 22nd, 1984.
Just to give you an idea of the psychotically obsessive lengths I sometimes go to to track down these obscure versions of the Carol: Years ago when I bought this it was one of the many productions not available on video. Nor was it to be found on E-bay or Amazon or any of the usual outlets.
By emailing various staff members at Kent State University (whose theatre department mounted this version) I eventually reached a kind individual. He stated that, though the university did not have copies of the production for sale he would ask around on the KSU faculty’s exclusive chat boards to see if anyone had a copy they may have taped off television back in 1984. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s 10th Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this eeriest of all the versions to date!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2012) – This adaptation of A Christmas Carol was a noble effort to try something different that was not just a gimmick. Ignore the negative IMDb reviews which accuse this adaptation of using “Elizabethan language.” They’re off by a few hundred years, since in reality the dialogue follows that in the Dickens novel of 1843.
This 2012 version of A Christmas Carol boasts absolutely beautiful cinematography. Its emphasis is on the eerie nature of the story and has the look of a horror film much of the time. It has assorted flaws which I’ll cover as we go along but I almost hate having to cover the negative aspects of such a brave experiment.
I will take a hundred creative attempts like this, which may fall short but are trying something new, over one more soulless item which updates the story to the modern age but has no emotion to it. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s Tenth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this brand-new adaptation of the Dickens tale.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2019) – Directed and co-written by Steven Salgado, this adaptation of the 1843 novel sets the story in present-day Miami. Though some may try to pigeon-hole this indy film as “a Hispanic-American Christmas Carol” that would not be quite accurate.
Yes, the movie gives us Roberto instead of Bob Cratchit and Scrooge & Hernandez instead of Scrooge & Marley (Marley is Hernandez’s FIRST name) as well as a nearly all-Hispanic cast, but viewers are not hit over the head with it. There is no attempt to drag present-day politics into the story and ethnicity is not used as a gimmick. It is not even commented upon that the characters are all Hispanic-American, a refreshing change in a 2019 film.
This movie looks absolutely gorgeous. There are probably Miami Tourism videos that don’t make the city look this sunny and appealing. I’m not exaggerating. The cinematography in this flick makes everything look good enough to eat.
Kate Katzman portrays Ellen Scrooge, CEO of Scrooge & Hernandez Pharmaceuticals. Marley Hernandez died just one year earlier instead of the usual seven years. The astonishing youth of nearly all the cast members seems to be the reason for this. Ellen looks like she would have still been in High School seven years earlier, not already a partner in Scrooge & Hernandez. Continue reading
If it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving then that means it’s the start of this year’s Christmas Carol-A-Thon! This is the TENTH Annual edition. Between now and Christmas Day Balladeer’s Blog will examine multiple versions of A Christmas Carol, both new reviews AND old favorites mixed in.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2006) – This computer-animation version of the Dickens classic was produced by BKN and distributed by Genius Entertainment, Kidtoon Films and Image Entertainment. Ric Machin directed. The 48 minute film had a brief theatrical run in November of 2006 before being released on home video.
If you’re in the mood for a shallow, “just going through the motions” rendition of A Christmas Carol then THIS is the version for you! The target audience seems to have been very, very young children so all strong emotional content has been removed, leaving the shell of the actual story.
The computer animation, though dated by 2019 standards, was very good for 2006 and probably delighted children. Anthropomorphic animals play the characters, with skunks as Ebenezer Scrooge and his nephew Fred, rabbits as Bob Cratchit and his family, an anteater as Jacob Marley and so on.
Taking the story beat by beat: Continue reading
MERRY CHRISTMAS! Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2018 comes to a close with Balladeer’s Blog’s look at this neglected 1982 Australian cartoon version.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1982) – Burbank Films of Australia produced this mediocre at best animated version of the Dickens classic. Previously I reviewed the 1969 Australian cartoon version and if you were to go strictly by this 1982 rendition of A Christmas Carol you would think that Australian animation technology had not progressed one bit since 1969.
Background figures often don’t move at all and the ones that do just repeat the same gestures and gesticulations ad nauseum like in early video games. There’s also a delayed reaction element to every dialogue exchange early on. The Australian accents add a bit of novelty but that was also true of the 1969 version.
Moving on to the story, Nephew Fred’s visit to his Uncle Ebenezer and Bob Cratchit largely sticks to dialogue directly taken from the novel but pointlessly throws in meaningless asides here and there. The delayed reactions in the early exchanges of dialogue really stick out here. It’s like you’re watching live actors who take a while to remember their next line.
The dialogue flows much better between Scrooge and the two Charity Collectors. Bob Cratchit’s farewell to his boss is trimmed to the bone, robbing it of any impact, but this IS one of those versions which shows Bob joining children in sliding along the sidewalk ice like an overgrown kid so that’s nice. Continue reading
BLACKADDER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL – My Ninth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! Long-time readers know what a big fan I am of Rowan Atkinson’s work – especially his Blackadder programs. Hell, I’m even an enormous fan of his more serious work in Full Throttle. And I never tire of telling anyone who will listen that I think he’d make a perfect Dikaiopolis in Aristophanes’ comedy The Acharnians.
As to why it took me so long to finally get around to reviewing Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, it’s the same reason that applied to the George C Scott version: I wanted to handle some of the more obscure Carols before hitting the well-known ones.
This Christmas Special is set in Victorian England with Atkinson starring as Ebenezer Blackadder, owner of a moustache shop. Tony Robinson is on hand as yet another member of the Baldrick family line.
In typically perverse Blackadder fashion the storyline reverses the usual sequence of events. Ebenezer starts out as a kind-hearted and generous soul but soon the Christmas Spirit (Robbie Coltrane) shows him visions of Blackadders Past, Present and Yet-to-Come. Continue reading
A CAROL CHRISTMAS (2003) – Here’s another entry in Balladeer’s Blog’s Ninth 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
A DIVA’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (2000) – Balladeer’s Blog’s Ninth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with a look at this Vanessa Williams venture. Due to the nature of this adaptation of the Dickens classic it is often categorized as one of the “African-American versions.” Among other such Carols I have reviewed are Christmas is Comin’ Uptown with Gregory Hines and John Grin’s Christmas starring Robert Guillaume.
The forever-underrated Vanessa Williams is brilliant in this very good film that mixes comedy, music and drama together far better than many stage versions manage to do. Williams stars as Ebony Scrooge, a pop singer who puts on a kind and pleasant public face but who is a … well, a diva behind the scenes.
Ebony is even more nasty than usual as she pushes her entourage beyond all their limits to get ready for an alleged “charity” show for the homeless on Christmas. Ebony’s demeanor makes it clear that she is really doing it all just for public image reasons and to feed her own ego (Bono – cough – Bono) as she wallows in the plaudits sent her way. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s Ninth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with the song Humbug from the 1953 television version of The Stingiest Man In Town. For my review of the entire production click HERE