Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2014 continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! Previously I’ve reviewed the 1910 and 1923 silent film versions of the Dickens classic. This time I’ll take a look at the 1913 adaptation Old Scrooge, which clocks in at just over forty minutes.
Old Scrooge stars Seymour Hicks, the only English-language actor to portray Ebenezer Scrooge in both a silent AND a sound era adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Hicks went on to star in the 1935 version titled Scrooge, a version so cheapjack and rushed it was riff-fodder for Randy and Richard on The Texas 27 Film Vault in the 1980’s. If you’ve seen it you may recall the “pioneering” way that the visit from Marley’s Ghost was presented by having Scrooge talk to an empty chair while Marley’s lines were provided through a voice-over.
Getting back to Old Scrooge, though it came out just three years after the Edison Studios version it is light-years ahead of that adaptation in terms of its effectiveness. Long stretches of dialogue and narration lifted straight from the novel fill most of the dialogue boards plus Tiny Tim is NOT edited out like he is in the joyless and soulless 1910 version. Due to the limited time Marley’s Ghost not only gives his usual warnings but takes Scrooge on his visits to Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. No additional locations were used for those visits – the visiting spectre merely projects the images on the rear wall of the office at Scrooge and Marley’s, where Ebenezer spends his nights in this adaptation. Continue reading