The Christmas Carol (1949 TV Short)
User ReviewsReview this title
However, in twenty-five minutes this production does include a scene in Scrooge's office, Jacob Marley and all the three ghosts, as well as a glimpse at Scrooge's redemption and celebration of Christmas.
As an example of early television's attempts to film the classics, it is very good indeed. There are of course better adaptations of this tale, but this one is worth seeking out even if is just the once.
The version I watched is rather muddy picture-wise, but the sound is clear and understandable, and everyone has clear voices which serve Dickens' text well.
There are many liberties taken with the script, but when you have limited time, cuts are necessary. Fezziwig is cut out, as are the scenes with Fan. The ghosts are interesting if uninspired compared to other versions.
All in all, it's hard to ruin Dickens, and while this version is very abridged, it moves.
This show is like white bread--inoffensive and a bit bland.
Vincent Price, in that honey-ed voice of his, "reads" the story as if reading to a child. Taylor Holmes playing Ebeneezer (more about that later) Scrooge is from New Jersey so he can be forgiven for not sounding particularly English but why does he sound like Gabby Hayes ? His reactions smack too much of silent screen acting to be acceptable in a 1949 production. His laugh at the finale is more crazed than amused.
The prize for worst performance ever as one of the ghosts must go to one George James. He has the look and stance of Superman and seems angry rather than the usual jovial presentation of this ghost. Another prize for bad acting would go to young Bobby Hyatt as "Tiny" Tim. The kid looks so pleased with himself after remembering his Bless Us Every One line that ... well... strangling comes to mind.
Back to the extra EEs. Not only is Mr. Scrooge called that in the credits but on his tombstone as well.
To top it off the title cards call it "THE Christmas Carol".
Got a list to check off? Remember, you've been warned.
The movie was narrated by Vincent Price. He has such a wonderful voice and added immensely.
You won't recognize Cratchit's younger daughter, her name was Jill Oppenheim. She would grow up to be a true piece of eye-candy and a Bond girl as Jill St. John.
One of the most interesting parts is Scrooge's laugh on Christmas morning. If you heard it, you would probably call for the men in the little white coats to take him away.
And yes, it is a little odd that some performers have British accents, while others don't. But then, George C. Scott didn't exactly have one when he played Scrooge in 1984.
Taken on its own terms, though, it is fun to watch, knowing that it was filmed in 1949. Vincent Price does a fine job as the narrator, and seeing a nine-year-old Jill St. John as Missie Cratchit is fun. This was her second television appearance, and the second of her child actress performances she did from 1949 to 1952.
Both she and Mr. Price would go on to more notable performances, he in horror films, she in various ingénue roles, in the years ahead. While this production may not rank with the 1951 version with Alastair Sim or the George C. Scott version made 33 years after, it remains an interesting relic of the late 1940s, and an interesting artifact of the infancy of television.
The Christmas Carol is a 1949 low-budget, black and white television special narrated by Vincent Price. Compressing the Charles Dickens classic story into a half-hour, it is stated to be "the oldest extant straight adaptation of the story" for television.
The production will be considered primitive by modern standards; it is also noted for misspelling Ebenezer Scrooge's name as "Ebeneezer" in the opening credits.
This special is worth watching for many reasons. There is something about watching an old black and white movie about Christmas. The production is not the bet ever adaption of the Charles Dickens classic but none the less it is well thought out and executed.
Older adults will like this. Kids will be bored. It is worth seeking out. There is a "Timeless Vibe" to this that big feature films seldom capture.
Even allowing for the fact that this is one of the earliest surviving TV programs - which does make it worth seeing in any case - the whole production seems uninspired. Still, it's interesting to see Vincent Price in an early television appearance as the narrator, during a period in which he was enjoying success in Hollywood cinema, but prior to his becoming a superstar.
I think everyone who's reading this review probably only knows of this film's existence due to a horror and general film legend, Vincent Price, being involved with this film. That's what drew me in. I'm sure that's what's drawn many others in, as well. He's only the narrator, here, but Vincent doesn't skip out on playing Vincent; with charm. He's what I watched the film for, and-thank the Lord-he wasn't some small voice over cameo. The narrator is on-screen pretty often, honestly. But the rest of the actors are fine. Scrooge himself is fine (even though the actor seems to have a speech impediment of the Sean Connery type, which can be a little odd and distractive).
Costumes are a joke, here. There's really nothing to see, with those. But, again: this seems very low-budget.
I do think the music in this little film was decent. Nothing to be in wonder about, but it was placed well. And that's what really matters, in my opinion.
My fiancé thought this was decent, too.
Solid stuff from a time long gone.
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Vincent Price hosts and narrates this made-for-TV version of the Charles Dickens' classic about Ebeneezer Scrooge (Taylor Holmes) who is visited by his former partner and warned that three spirits will visit him. I've seen so many versions of this story that you obvious begin to feel a bit of deja vu but I've always felt that the story itself is so strong that it's not too hard to bring one into it. This version here has several good things going for it but it's obviously done on a pretty low-budget and the wooden sets and some poor acting certainly doesn't help. I thought that all of the sets were rather cheap and fake looking but I think a lot of the television shows from this period suffered the same fate. Just take a look at the chains around Marley and you can see that there wasn't too much imagination going on. Another weak thing was the performance by George James who is so still as the Ghost of Christmas Present that you'd think they really dug him up out of some grave. With that said, the performance by Holmes was actually pretty good. He's certainly not one of the best Scrooge's that I've seen but I enjoyed his performance. I also thought Price did a good job reading from the book and just check out the way he keeps reminding us that Marley is dead. I'm not sure why they changed the "A" to a "The" in the title but fans of the story and Price will want to check this one out.