George C. Scott as Scrooge

DATELINE: Holly Not in His Heart

scrooge

Each Christmas season we are inundated with a variety of the myriad movie versions of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.

Each season we are invariably asked for our recommended choice for viewing. But, we must defer: our taste in Scrooge performance is sympathetic to the eternal curmudgeon that dwells in every movie critic.

Since we live in a haunted house where ghosts stay with us every day, not merely on holidays, we are less intimidated than most by spirits.

With that in mind, we must offer the best version of Ebenezer Scrooge was by the man who brought General Patton to life:  notable contrarian George C. Scott.

His miserly Scrooge seems unrepentant. He is some fearsome in his role that he never defers to the ghosts, but dares them to change him. In that, they barely succeed.

If you like your Scrooge undiluted, George C. Scott gives you a dose for the ages. The unremitting mood of the Dickens London in this movie is dank and unpleasant—and even when Scrooge tends to give quarter, he seems to be mindful of the world he lives in. Scrooge is only slightly moved by pathetic Tiny Tim.

It is the best Scrooge performance ever.

What you see is what you get: there is no fancy makeup on Scrooge, as the only American accent in the cast. Even that is perfect to show a man out of touch with his time and place.

The film remains faithful, almost in every detail, merely cutting away some plot points, though sticking to the original dialogue.

Made in 1984, this Carol is often lost in the Hollywood or Disney extravaganzas. But, we would put our miserly money on this version as the one to scare the holiday spirits out of your classically, mis-remembered moments from the original novella.  It’s a treat, and not a goose or turkey production.

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