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 9th Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this song from the 1970 musical Scrooge.
Balladeer’s Blog’s 9th Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues!
Before MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault!
In the middle 1980s, way down on Level 31 Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, machine-gun toting Film Vault Technicians First Class hosted this neglected cult show.
ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: December 14th, 1985 to the best that can be determined.
SERIAL: Before showing and mocking the movie our members of the Film Vault Corps showed and mocked a chapter of Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940).
In that serial Ming the Merciless unleashes a disease called the Purple Death on Earth, prompting Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Dr Zarkov to fly to the planet Mongo to find a cure and defeat Ming for good.
HOST SEGMENTS: None have been unearthed for this episode yet. As always if any other fans of this show have any info they would like to share feel free to contact me – see my About page for details.
We’ve come a long way toward tentatively reconstructing a tiny bit of this show’s history over the past few years so hopefully more memories will be jogged.
MOVIE: Continue reading
MERRY CHRISTMAS! Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2017 comes to a close 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 Eighth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues!
SCROOGE (1935) – This is the notoriously cheapjack and rushed version of A Christmas Carol.
It is almost unwatchable if you’re not a lover of bad movies like I am. And we are talking lame, lame LAME! Continue reading
Before you know it Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2017 will be over so let’s cram in as much as we can before the 25th. Here’s another individual song from one of the many versions of A Christmas Carol that I’ve reviewed over the years. From Scrooge (1970) it’s Thank You Very Much, which SHOULD have been sung by Bob Cratchit but instead goes to the guy from the Schizoid Man episode of The Prisoner.
Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2016 continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at the 1970 musical version that starred Albert Finney.
The only – and dubious – advantage to having such a young man portraying Ebenezer Scrooge is that he could realistically play Scrooge’s younger self in the Christmas Past scenes.
Big deal. In reality it meant that the portions with Belle get dragged out even longer and more excruciatingly than they usually do, just to take advantage of the fact that for once it’s not a different actor playing the younger Ebenezer. Again – big deal.
Yet I like this version much more than I should. A rerun of it late one Christmas night was my first exposure to it years ago when I was first getting into the multiple versions of A Christmas Carol. That has probably colored my feelings about it all these years because I have to admit when I read negative reviews of this production I laugh like hell and nod my head in agreement at all the bashing it gets … yet I still like it for some reason. Continue reading
THE STINGIEST MAN IN TOWN (1953) – For several years only the soundtrack for this terrific musical was available because the bulk of the video from this television production was missing. As of a few years back all the video has been restored so this Christmas season treasure can finally be enjoyed in its entirety.
Most people are only familiar with the 1978 Rankin-Bass Cartoon version of The Stingiest Man in Town, which chops the story down and omits or shortens a few songs. Here in all its glory is the original live 1953 production from December 23rd, rebroadcast in 1956, hence the 1956 date on some copies. Basil Rathbone stars as Scrooge, Johnny Desmond plays Nephew Fred, Martyn Green plays Bob Cratchit and Vic Damone appears as the young Ebenezer Scrooge at Fezziwig’s party.
Many of the songs in this musical have become Christmas song standards and people are often amazed that The Stingiest Man in Town is where the songs originated. An Old Fashioned Christmas, Listen to the Song of the Christmas Spirit, Yes, There is a Santa Claus, and Birthday Party of the King are among the Continue reading
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 Christmas 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!”) .
The man all mimes aspire to be … damn them.
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. Continue reading