The Christmas Carol
Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and three Christmas Ghosts that change his perception of life. Narrated by Vincent Price.
This unique 1949 version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol features the memorable narration (on screen) of the unforgettable Vincent Price. He reads from the book which then shifts to the scenes he is reading. His distinctive voice lends a nice touch to the film. This is a truncated version, which works well in many ways as the 25-minute movie cuts to the chase, hitting on memorable dialog and scenes before reaching the climax of Ebenezer Scrooge’s change of heart and reclamation. Although some scenes of dialogue are omitted, the film is edited well and the story of the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future are nicely conveyed.
Taylor Holmes makes a fine Scrooge and is appropriately cranky. He delivers his “Humbug!” remarks like he sincerely means it. Added to the fine acting is the sounds of the Mitchell Choirboys, and their renditions of the Christmas carols resonate nicely with the holiday theme. Their songs include God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Noel. The songs add the Christmas spirit to its time period setting from so long ago, England in the mid-1800s. The book was published in 1843 and since Dickens doesn’t mention a particular year, it adds to the timelessness of the story.
Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s employee, wants Christmas day off and of course Scrooge makes his famous comment that it’s a poor excuse for picking his employer’s pocket every 25th of December! Vincent Price’s narration includes the line, in contrast to Scrooge, “Most of London was jovial and full of glee this Christmas Eve.” Scrooge, in his melancholy mood, is said to have eaten at the tavern before heading home. Here, he encounters the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley. Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. Price says in his narration that this time Scrooge couldn’t say, “Humbug” because this time it was highly unlikely that it was humbug.
The Ghost of Christmas Past shows up and reveals young Scrooge to himself, and the painful reminder that his young love, when he was a young man, released him. Scrooge had become obsessed with making money. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows up at 1 a.m. and Scrooge visits Bob Cratchit’s home and observes Cratchit’s kind toast to his employer, Scrooge, “the founder of our feast.” Scrooge is emotionally taken by the small and crippled Tiny Tim. Scrooge learns that if the shadows remain unaltered that Tiny Tim will die.
Finally, a dark specter makes his appearance, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Tiny Tim has died, and Scrooge sees the family’s sorrow firsthand. He also, shockingly, looks on his own tombstone. It affects him deeply and he wants to know what he can do to sponge away the writing on the stone.
The movie ends as it should, with Scrooge visiting the Cratchit home, bearing gifts, and promising to help Tiny Tim, as he knows a surgeon that can save him. And, as Mr. Vincent Price points out, Scrooge was better than his word, and Tiny Tim survives. The joy is evident when Scrooge first wakes up, from his ghostly visits, and says, “It’s still Christmas. I haven’t missed it!” he laughs.
This wholesome film has easily earned our Dove seal for All Ages. This shortened version still hits the highlights of the story and touches the heart. And Vincent Price’s distinguished voice lends to the enjoyable experience.
The Dove Take
Your entire family will enjoy this wonderful version of the Christmas classic with its fine acting, songs, and it’s filled with the spirit of Christmas.