The Christmas Carol (TV Short 1949) Poster

(1949 TV Short)

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A funny little production of "The Christmas Carol"
hownowbrownpaul29 December 2005
This condensed version of the Dickens story was shown on CBN one December in the mid-1980s. I taped it, and our family has enjoyed watching it each Christmas since then. The production is simple, but certain of the elements evoke unintended laughs. Only about half of the actors use British accents. Taylor Holmes' portrayal of Scrooge is very melodramatic, and we laugh at some of his delivered lines. The effect of Marley breaking through Scrooge's door is also very funny: a shot of the door is superimposed with Marley walking through a large sheet of paper and accompanied by a big "boom" sound effect. However, the program is very charming, despite the mediocre production values. I hope it is made available someday, even as a bargain-bin DVD.
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Oddly charming
didi-524 December 2011
Mainly because of Vincent Price's excellent and tongue-in-cheek narration, reading the celebrated Dickens story, this works better than it should, especially given the ridiculously over the top performance of Taylor Holmes as Scrooge, acting in a way one associates more with the worst excesses of silent cinema.

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.
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Well Done Little Version of the Dickens Christmas Classic
HarlowMGM25 November 2012
This half-hour digest telling of Charles Dickens' Christmas CAROL from 1949 is one of the earliest American television programs to survive. Taylor Holmes (a character actor perhaps best known for as Henry Spoffard Sr. in Marilyn Monroe's GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES) is well cast as the sour Mr. Scrooge. Although he is a bit over the top in a few of his early scenes, he is very good otherwise and there is a unusual touch of poignancy in his performance that often is not in other actors as Scrooge, possibly due to Mr. Holmes' having lost two of his sons (including the well-known actor Phillip Holmes) within the previous five years, thus giving him perhaps an emotional link to Scrooge's inner sadness that some actors couldn't quite reach. This little drama is moves quickly of course given the time frame and the cast of mostly unknowns does very well (although the ghosts are fairly ridiculously costumed, particularly the ghost of Christmas present who resembles some actor in a king costume for a 1960's cereal commercial). It's an effective little piece of television and Christmas nostalgia. It won't be anyone's favorite rendition of the classic story but it's worth seeing and rather endearing.
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Bah! Humbug!
rudy-3022 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It is interesting to compare this version with the Frederic March/basil Rathbone version. Granted, Vincent Price's version is less star-studded, but it is interesting to see how different adaptations occur. Vincent as narrator reads from the book, much as Frederic March did. Vincent seems to be enjoying himself, though. It is great to hear him say (Marley was dead." Mind you, this film was shot before Vincent became a horror star.

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.
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Not bad, but there are simply better versions out there I'd recommend you see first.
MartinHafer20 August 2012
The problem with "The Christmas Carol" (1949) is that it's a VERY familiar tale--with quite a few versions out there--including the classic versions with Alistair Sim as well as Reginald Owen, a musical, some wonderful made for TV versions and it's probably the most ripped-off plot used in sitcoms! So, because of this, a SHORT version with cheap sets is already at a huge disadvantage--even if it had Vincent Price narrating. Most of the acting (except for the Ghost of Christmas Present) is decent and it's okay for 1949 TV. But, shoving this into such a short time slot and the poor ending at the Cratchit ending didn't help. Overall, it's worth a look if you are curious but my advice is to see the made for TV version starring George C. Scott--I really think this is the best of the lot.

This show is like white bread--inoffensive and a bit bland.
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THE Christmas Carol and EbenEEzer Scrooge.
Byrdz28 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's 1949. It's early television. They are trying to present a classic novel in 23+ minutes. Yet, that doesn't excuse its problems. The actors recite some of the lines from the book and give a very bare bones rendition of the story, so credit for that but not much else.

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.
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Christmas. Bah. Humbug!
lastliberal-853-25370813 November 2013
This is probably the shortest version you will see. With a bare-bones budget, they only managed 25 minutes. No street scenes of Victorian Christmas, and no lavish parties.

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.
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A product of its time
tforbes-27 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This was not the earliest television version of "A Christmas Carol," but it seems to be one reasonably available for viewing. It is a product of its time, given its limited production values. That was par for the course.

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.
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Worth Watching
Christmas-Reviewer5 November 2016

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.
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Another solid adaptation of the famous Dickens story
Horst_In_Translation20 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Christmas Carol" is a 25-minute (very essential version at that brief runtime), black-and-white, live-action film from over 65 years ago and writer and director Arthur Pierson adapted the popular Charles Dickens story for the small screen here. The most famous cast member is probably Jill St. John, even if she only plays a very minor character. You have to really mess things up in order to come up with a bad film because the base material is just so good. And Pierson definitely succeeded with his work here. This was mostly due to Taylor Holmes who played the lead character very convincingly. The narration comes from Vincent Price, who is of course also a really famous cast member. I liked how they switched between him reading to us from the book and the action. It gave the film a somewhat cozy look. And with the films he appears in otherwise, it's also fitting that he is a part in this film, one of the spookiest Christmas tales, despite its wonderful message. Occasionally, I was a bit surprised how little Scrooge was scared by all these ghosts appearing out of nowhere, but that's just a minor criticism. My favorite adaptation of Dickens' work here is still Disney's old animated take on the story, but I thought this one here was pretty good too and I certainly recommend it. Thumbs up.
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A curiosity at best
ebeckstr-11 January 2019
It wouldn't be fair to judge this version of A Christmas Carol by the same standards as the full-length movie versions. Nonetheless, even within its heavily abridged format, it falls short. The entire cast's acting is poor to mediocre, partly because everyone double-times it through their dialogue, perhaps in an effort to make up for the program's condensed time slot.

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.
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A Good Time
michaelgarykelley19941 November 2018
We've all seen many versions of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" on film, but this is one of the ones I only recently learned existed, this year. It's not the best (not by a long shot), but I do think it's decent, for the era it came out in, as well as the smaller budget it seems to have.

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.
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Price Fans Will Want to Check Out
Michael_Elliott19 December 2012
The Christmas Carol (1949)

** 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.
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