Aren’t we all pretty fed up with the same versions of A Christmas Carol being rammed down our throats like Razzleberry Dressing every Christmas season while many of the clever but lesser known variations of the Dickens Yuletide classic languish in obscurity?
I’m one of those people who begin wallowing in the dozens of versions of this Industrial Age epic myth right after Thanksgiving and don’t let up until New Year’s Day. With the obsessive and semi- psychotic zeal of a Trekkie or an X-Phile I purchase every offbeat variation and adaptation of A Christmas Carol that I can lay my hands on.
Drawing on the extensive, albeit geeky, expertise that I’ve gained in this subject over the years I’d like to spread the word about some of the versions of the story that can be found in the remote hinterlands of home video or audio. This will be a look at variations of the actual Dickens story, set in London in the 1840’s.
An entirely separate article could be written about adaptations of A Christmas Carol set in different time periods and locales, like Rod Serling’s anti-war parable Carol For Another Christmas, or the 1975 conservation short The Energy Carol or even the year 2000 Brazilian version depicting the Scrooge figure as a drug lord who repents. Just think of me as the Ghost of Christmas Carol Obscurities. After reading this list you’ll hopefully conduct your own search for versions of the Carol beyond the limited world of Mr Magoo, Alastair Sim and George C Scott (“Dickens, you magnificent bastard! I read yer booooook!”) .
Marcel Marceau Presents a Christmas Carol (1973) – Marcel Marceau is possibly the only name that comes to mind if you try to think of famous mimes. In fact “Famous Mimes” would make for one easy Jeopardy category because the response would always be “Who is Marcel Marceau?”
Anyway, this BBC presentation featured Marceau acting out a pantomime of the Carol and playing every role. This was accompanied by narration by another actor who once portrayed Scrooge, Michael Hordern. If you prefer versions of the Carol devoid of any and all speaking there are several silent movie Carols available out there.
Shower of Stars Christmas Carol (1954) – This Carol may suck from the dramatic angle but it’s a wonderful oddity well worth owning because of its cultural kitsch value. This is a recorded version of what was first presented as a live broadcast and the barely sixty minute production provides a nice example of what live, single sponsor broadcasts were like way back when.
The original advertisements are included so getting to see three-figure (yes, three-figure) sales prices for new vehicles will have modern audiences smiling. Fredric March plays Scrooge, Basil Rathbone plays Marley’s Ghost and there are some enjoyable songs scattered throughout the show.
A Christmas Carol (opera) (1982) – Thea Musgrave is one of the few true giants in the opera world from recent decades and she did a magnificent job with this opera version of the Carol. The familiarity of the Dickens story makes this presentation accessible even to viewers who are generally bewildered when it comes to operas.
In addition to this Granada television production there are two other opera versions of the Carol on video. The 1978 version was Continue reading →