Monday, December 19, 2005

A Christmas Carol

"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens is a perfect story for the Christmas holidays!
What more could you ask for?
Okay, Miss Maven knows. . . . She asked Santa for a new DVD player. That's not what she's talking about!
". . . Carol" is a vivid story about a miser who comes acopper on Christmas Eve when he's confronted by ghosts of the season.
Hollywood is still trying to come up with new ways of telling this classic story and frequently with quite a license!
But Miss Maven will concentrate with the 1938 and 1951 versions here.
The 1951 movie with Alistair Sim is what many baby boomers like Maven are most familiar.
Both have an excellent cast, production values and writers but Sim's comes across as much more depressing as his Scrooge is more hard-bitten, his cynicism comes across as deeper-rooted.
Reginald Owen starts off obnoxious in his 1938 ". . . Carol" but his Scrooge is still essentially a more humane person.
He manages to give the part an almost child-like quality as he is taken through his paces by the Christmas spirits.
Miss Maven must admit that the studio could have done better by it's actors.
The costumes may have been historically correct but they prove that some men just weren't built for that period of clothes!
Not to mention that Reginald Owen was given a top fluff of hair that Miss Maven keeps looking at instead of watching the action!
And Barry McKay is always a great addition as his nephew, Fred.
The 1938 ". . . Carol" had a unique distinction:
It was the only movie where Gene Lockhart and his wife, Kathleen Lockhart, appeared together with their daughter, June, in her movie debut!
This version also has Leo G. Carroll as Marley, Scrooge's dead partner.
Carroll ironically went on to play Topper on television with his own set of ghosts.
Ann Rutherford was cast as The Ghost of Christmas Past, and excellently so.
She wasn't always so lucky to get out of the "Polly Benedict" kind of roles from the Andy Hardy Series.
There is a blooper at the end of the 1951 version when Scrooge wakes up on Christmas Morning.
Watch Alistair Sim when he goes over to the mirror and you can see part of the camera crew reflected in it!
Miss Maven recommends both movies as mustsees but thinks that the 1938 "A Christmas Carol" is the one you should add to your collection first, especially if you have children--or managed to keep the child alive in you!


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