-Noel T. Manning II
There have been hundreds of film, TV, radio, and stage versions of the 1843 Charles Dickens novel about a man who rediscovered the love of Christmas after several supernatural encounters. When I was a senior at Rosewood High School (Goldsboro, N.C.) I had the opportunity to play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in a stage version; all these years later, I still remember the lines, and find myself drawn to any version I can get my hands on. So, today, I thought I’d share a few films and TV faves worth exploring.
- A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) – Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) wrote this take on a man who hates Christmas because he lost his son during wartime on Christmas Eve. This version plays on the threat of Nuclear war, fear of other cultures, and the individual ego-driven society. It was a relevant social commentary then and how. This version starred Peter Sellers, Eva Marie Saint, Britt Ekland, Robert Shaw, Steve Lawrence & Pat Hingle and was scored by Henry Mancini. It went on to earn two Emmy nominations.
- A Christmas Carol (1984) – The brilliant George C. Scott was magnificently nasty in the lead role of Ebenezer Scrooge in a film that had deliberately slow pacing at times to challenge the minds and hearts of all who watched. Scott earned a best acting Emmy nomination for this one, and it is one of my favorite portrayals of a man who reconciles his past while rediscovering his future.
- Scrooged (1988) – Bill Murray, Carol Kaine, Karen Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, John Forsythe, Robert Mitchem & a host of others star in this comedic Richard Donner directed version of a cynical TV exec who puts money and ratings above all things until three Christmas spirits pay him uninvited visits. This was Bill Murray at his best, and this film holds fond memories for me. I first viewed it with college friends when I was a freshman at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. I revisit this annually, and am always reminded of this shared laughs with friends.
- A Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) – Michael Caine stars in this musical (and family-friendly) version of the tale of old with classic songs like Marley & Marley still playing around in my head. This was a VHS/DVD fave for my son, Thomas, when he was younger (even though he was born seven years after the theatrical release). It still holds up well, and Caine is perfectly despicable as Mr. Scrooge.
- Dr. Who’s A Christmas Carol (2010) – In this sci-fi version of the classic, we have flying sharks, time travel, a stranded space liner & a miser who controls the weather … oh yes, and Dr. Who serving as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. I recently discovered this adaptation of the Dicken’s classic, and I must say it is now on my top five versions. It has heart, originality, twists, humor, and a perfect story about choices, redemption and not allowing your past to define you.
** Bonus: A Christmas Carol (1999) – Sir Patrick Stewart takes on the role of Scrooge in this 1999 Hallmark Entertainment film that is inspired from the 1951 classic film version with Alastair Sim. It offers a gritty set design, and darker take of this often told Christmas tale. Patrick Stewart was recruited to star in this film version after he performed a series of successful live theatrical readings of “A Christmas Carol” on Broadway and in London.