Stubbornly refusing to believe in Christmas or to be separated from his inexhaustible wealth, money lender and parsimonious recluse Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) can’t be bothered with the poor and destitute in Victorian London at the most festive time of the year.
Intent on spending Christmas Eve alone, the sceptical curmudgeon is visited unexpectedly by the truly terrifying ghost of his ex-partner Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern) – his arrival announced by a cacophony of clanging bells, the reverberant sound of his dragging chains sounding eerily like animal sounds and a door flying open – who paves the way for a visitation of the otherworldly spirits of Christmas Past (Michael Dolan) – who gets the lion’s share of the film but strangely makes the least impact visually – then Christmas Present (Francis De Wolff), and finally, Christmas Yet to Come (Czeslaw Konarski), a silent, finger-pointing phantom.
Sim’s marvellous range of facial expressions, his expressive voice and his pure joy at having survived his night of hell with the ghosts, ultimately evoke a genuine sympathy for the old miser.
The title of the film was changed to A Christmas Carol for its American release to match the name of the original Charles Dickens book.
Avoid at all costs the hateful colourised version that entirely misses the point of some of director Brian Desmond Hurst’s creative decisions and the fake widescreen version that crops the film.
Young Ebenezer Scrooge
Spirit of Christmas Present
Francis De Wolff
Spirit of Christmas Past
Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come
Young Jacob Marley
Brian Desmond Hurst