Tag Archives: Christmas

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1982) – AUSTRALIAN CARTOON

Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2022 continues with Balladeer’s Blog’s look at this neglected 1982 Australian cartoon version.

A Christmas Carol 1982A 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

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BLACKADDER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (1988)

blackadder's christmas carolBLACKADDER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL – Balladeer’s Blog’s 13th Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues! 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

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2nd CHANCE FOR CHRISTMAS (2019): CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2022 CONTINUES

Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2022 here at Balladeer’s Blog continues with a review of this 2019 item.

2nd Chance For Christmas2nd CHANCE FOR CHRISTMAS (2019) – (Special thanks to Balladeer’s Blog reader Lee Ann for recommending this Carol to me.)

Directed by Christopher Ray, this is an adaptation of the Dickens classic and sets the story in the present-day. The Scrooge stand-in is a Country Western singer named Chance Love (Brittany Underwood). My fellow Carol enthusiasts will immediately be put in mind of A Diva’s Christmas Carol, reviewed previously here at Balladeer’s Blog.

2nd Chance For Christmas shrewdly stakes out its own territory so that it stands out from the Vanessa Williams flick about a pop starlet named Ebony Williams. In addition the film shrewdly used a numerical designation for the first word in the title rather than spelling out “Second” ensuring it will be listed ahead of movies whose titles begin with any letters at all.

Brittany Underwood does a very good job as Chance, the mean-spirited and selfish singing starlet who abuses everyone around her. Every step of the way Underwood is up to the demands of the storyline and manages her comedic parts well, always the toughest challenge.

In fact nearly all the comedy bits in 2nd Chance For Christmas are well-written and well-executed, so I will avoid any spoilers regarding the jokes so as not to ruin them for first-time viewers.    Continue reading

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SCROOGE IN THE HOOD (2011): CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2022 BEGINS

mascot chair and bottle picIf it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, then regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know it’s the day when I kick off my annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon in which I review several versions of A Christmas Carol. I look at movies, television shows, radio shows and books which adapt the Dickens classic. Every year I present new reviews and a few old classics since newer readers will have missed them.

scrooge in the hoodSCROOGE IN THE HOOD (2011) – This is easily the worst attempt at a comedy version of the Carol that I’ve ever seen. It’s also a failure in terms of production values. Acting is nonexistent, props are below Cable Public Access levels, dialogue is often impossible to make out and the writing is like something from a 14-year-old trying to be edgy.

The premise behind this failed comedy is that Scrooge is a pimp, and gangsters from outside the Hood are trying to muscle in on his business. They’ve already killed his colleague Marley and are gunning for him, now.

This flick has one joke – inserting profanity, bloodshed and sexual situations into A Christmas Carol – and repeats it over and over and over for 83 minutes. Even porno adaptations like Ebenezer Screwed show a more inventive approach. Continue reading

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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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HOORAY FOR SANTA CLAUS: SEVERAL VERSIONS

Mascot and guitar

Balladeer’s Blog

Yes, it’s the song from that notoriously bad movie Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. Long years ago The Christmas Martian supplanted this flick in my Bad Movie Lover heart but Hooray For Santa Claus is still a butt-kicking song.

Starting us off is the movie version of the song by the poor man’s Skitch Henderson – Milton De Lugg – and The Little Eskimos.

And here’s the version by Al “Green Hornet Theme” Hirt: 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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