Now it’s Audre’s turn to dive into 1951’s A Christmas Carol. She does so with her typical childlike wonder, coupled with her deep appreciation for the source material. I can also relate to fifteen-year old Audre, spending a lazy, hot day reading a book that takes place in cold weather.
From the sounds of the review, it seems Audre might have watched the colorized version, which is on Amazon Prime as Scrooge, its title in England. Amazon does have the film under its American title (A Christmas Carol) in black and white for you purists out there. Unlike Audre, I—ever the cheapskate—did manage to find a free version on YouTube, though now I have to wonder if that’s a pirated version—d’oh! Swashbuckling is cool, but intellectual property theft is not; that said, I imagine any royalties from this film are going to the ungrateful heirs of whoever produced it. Still, let your conscience be your guide.
With that, here is Audre’s review of A Christmas Carol:
I have to share a story. It was summer, I was 15, it was hot outside, I was bored to distraction. After getting on my mother’s nerves a couple of times, she told me to go read a book. I haroomphed my way into the living room and started looking at the titles on the book shelf. I chose A Christmas Carol. I only picked it because it was hot and Christmas (used to) means snow and cold. I sat down in the corner of the couch, propped the book on the arm of it, and started to read.
I stayed in that position for the rest of the day, only getting up to eat and doing the chores I couldn’t get out of. What a story! I grew up on Fifties horror movies but I don’t mind telling you, the ghostly parts of the story gave me the creeps – a definite feeling of dis-ease, so to speak. I finished the book. I looked at the cover. Charles Dickens. I’d never heard of him before.
There are probably 25-30 versions of A Christmas Carol – television programs and films – but for me there is only one: 1951’s theater version starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge. Normally, I wouldn’t address the details of the story, thinking that everyone must surely know the gist of it, but this past weekend my younger sister and her daughter hosted a ‘movie day’ for a mid-twenties young woman my niece had gone to college with. It seems that her education was severely limited as no one had ever introduced her to the movie Miracle on 34th Street (1947). I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to imagine that. So – in case you don’t know anything about A Christmas Carol, here it is in a nut shell: a mean and bitter old man is forced to face his life by the agency of three ghosts.
It so much more than that. It is a redemption story. It’s a cautionary tale. It’s a ‘how do you like the person you see in the mirror’ perception story. And Alastair Sim was born to play Ebenezer. With his his long thin face and sharp blue eyes, he’s exactly what I pictured while reading. Sim, as Scrooge, brings a depth to the part that we don’t see much anymore. He starts out at one end of the emotional spectrum and reaches the heights at the other and you never find yourself not believing everything he does and says. He plays Scrooge so well, you can see yourself in Scrooge. The actor never interferes with the character. John Wayne was always John Wayne whether he wore cowboy clothes or military uniforms. The same is not true of Alastair Sim. Sim gets inside Ebenezer and moves as Ebenezer would. You really have to watch this movie in order to appreciate how underplayed and resonating good acting can be.
I, the ‘clip queen’, am telling you right now. If you haven’t seen this movie, do not go to YouTube and look at clips. It will ruin the movie for you and you’ll completely miss the message and the magic. And true repentance. I couldn’t find the full movie on YouTube so I went to Amazon. I have a Prime membership and only paid $1.99 to rent it and watch it, but that may be true even without the membership. Considering the age of the movie, I was a little surprised that they charged for it at all but I don’t mind. The story and the acting are aging well and I don’t mind $1.99 to be reminded of that.
Oh! Forgot to mention: In America, the movie is called A Christmas Carol but in England it was released as Scrooge. Amazon has the title Scrooge. I was a little fearful that it may have some unforseen alterations but it doesn’t. It’s the movie I’ve known and loved most of my life.