God Bless You, Mr. Scrooge

During the holiday season, I’m positively glued to the television to watch all of the Christmas movies that start somewhere in the middle of November and continue all the way up to Christmas Day. With apologies to the producers, many of these aren’t very good (although that doesn’t stop me from watching them). And I can’t wait until one channel or other finally shows a version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – not adaptations like A Diva Christmas Carol or An American Christmas Carol (which are all fine in their own way) – but the REAL Christmas Carol, complete with Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Cratchits, Jacob Marley, and Spirits of Christmas – Past, Present and Christmases Yet to Come.

I’ve seen nearly every version ever filmed and can quote much of the dialog from memory. So consider yourself warned if you ever watch them with me.

I’m always fascinated how each actor interprets the role of Scrooge. Scrooge is a crotchety old man, that’s for sure, but as we go through his past with him, we see a little more of how he came to be the way he is. Whether it’s Reginald Owen (1938), Alastair Sim (1951), Patrick Stewart (1999 – and I even had the pleasure of seeing his one-man stage show as well – twice!) or even an animated Mr. Magoo (1962, with wonderful music by Jule Styne) or Jim Carrey (2009) to name just a few, we go along for the ride and we rejoice when Scrooge comes to realization that he has an opportunity to benefit mankind or just his own little corner of the world.

All of these performances are good but, for me, the absolute best redemption scene belongs to Alastair Sim. Once he awakens and knows he has not missed Christmas, he bounces around his bedroom, not quite knowing what he should do first. You can tell that the man is not accustomed to smiling and you can almost see his muscles crack from the strain of years of constant scowling.

But as most movie fans can probably tell you, one of the great film flubs also occurs in Sim’s redemption scene. If you have a chance to see it this holiday season – watch the mirror over Scrooge’s wash basin. As Scrooge deliberates what to do next, you can see a stage hand in the mirror’s reflection. Someone must have alerted him that he’s in the shot and he casually backs away.

Happy holiday viewing to all!

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