We've probably all either read the Charles Dickens story or saw one adaptation / version of "A Christmas Carol".
It has been done dozens upon dozens of times in some form with titles ranging from "A Christmas Carol", "Scrooge", and "Ebenezer" to more unique names such as "Scrooged" or "Mr. Scrooge". There are also versions with drastically different stories and titles like "Ms. Scrooge" or "An American Christmas Carol". I do enjoy most versions but since this is a top 10 I need to narrow it down to ten. Most of you have probably seen one of my top 10 because a few have played every year for decades.
There have been female versions such as Ms. Scrooge (1997) (TV) with Cicely Tyson as Ms. Ebenita Scrooge and I believe there are a few others with titles I don't remember. Not to sound sexist but I don't care for these females versions at all. I'm not sure if any woman can fit the role of Ebenezer. Possibly with a newly written part just for women.
Other female versions include Ebbie (1995) (TV) with Susan Lucci playing Elizabeth 'Ebbie' Scrooge. Lucci as Scrooge? I just didn't buy it. Then there's A Carol Christmas (2003) (TV), a Hallmark original movie with a very mismatched cast of Tori Spelling as Carol and get this, Coleman and Shatner play two of the Ghosts!
On with the list! I'll just sort by year of release. I'll also list the cast for Ebenezer, Bob Cratchit & his wife, Tiny Tim, Fred (Ebenezer's nephew), Fezziwig (Ebenezer's boss and "teacher" of sorts) and Jacob Marley's and the three ghosts.
1. Scrooge (1935)
An old black & white version which I don't see too often but do occasionally catch it. This British production version stars Seymour Hicks as Ebenezer Scrooge, a reprisal of his 1913 silent role. He does an okay job but not my favorite black & white version. Straightforward adaptation of Dickens' classic.
The voice of the Ghost of Christmas Past is not that of Marie Ney, whose physical outline can be seen onscreen as the Ghost. Ney was a woman, and the voice of the Ghost of Christmas Past is that of an uncredited male actor.
Seymour Hicks .... Ebenezer ScroogeDonald Calthrop .... Bob Cratchit
Barbara Everest .... Mrs. Cratchit
Robert Cochran .... Fred
Philip Frost .... Tiny Tim
Oscar Asche .... Spirit of Christmas Present
Marie Ney .... Spirit of Christmas Past
C.V. France .... Spirit of Christmas Future
Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol
H. Fowler Mear
2. A Christmas Carol (1938)
This is a version that I've seen played every year since I can remember. It's your standard adaptation. The sets look cheap but what can you expect for 1938. Reginald Owen does a great job as Ebenezer Scrooge but he kind of reminds me of a Lollipop Kid munchkin in Wizard of Oz with an almost bald head and a little wispy hair. Not really special about it but still is one of the better black & white versions. This production also exists in a colorized version but I don't remember seeing that one.
A very young June Lockhart plays a small role as one of the Cratchit daughters and both of her parents played the Cratchit parents which is kind of cool.
MGM released a record-breaking 375 prints of the film so that as many people as possible could see it during the Christmas season.
This was the only film in which Gene Lockhart appeared with his wife Kathleen Lockhart and their daughter June Lockhart, Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge McDuck was probably based physically on this version of Ebenezer Scrooge, with the fringe of hair and the small tuft of hair on the top of his head.
Reginald Owen .... Ebenezer Scrooge
Gene Lockhart .... Bob Cratchit
Kathleen Lockhart .... Mrs. Cratchit
Terry Kilburn .... Tiny Tim Cratchit
Barry MacKay .... Fred
Forrester Harvey .... Fezziwig
Leo G. Carroll .... Jacob Marley's ghost
Lionel Braham .... Spirit of Christmas Present
Ann Rutherford .... Spirit of Christmas Past
D'Arcy Corrigan .... Spirit of Christmas Future
June Lockhart .... Belinda Cratchit
Edwin L. Marin
Charles Dickens (short story)
Hugo Butler (screenplay)
3. Scrooge (1951)
This is another black & white adaptation which is played yearly and is probably the most popular black & white version. This one has been colorized so that's the version we usually see. Usually the colorized version is played as an homage with Patrick MacNeeacting as host to add facts about it between breaks. Patrick MacNee, of Avengers fame, has a small role in the film as a young Jacob Marley. He probably hosts because he's the biggest star in his career; either that or he was the only cast member still alive. It's your standard adaptation.
Alastair Sim is one of the best Ebenezer Scrooges. He's very mean to start with and he's great to watch after the ghosts leave. He jumps around hysterically like an insane man and a rather unique scene where the maid screams and runs away from him, thinking he went mad. He's probably my second favorite Scrooge.
Alastair Sim .... Ebenezer Scrooge
Mervyn Johns .... Bob Cratchit
Hermione Baddeley .... Mrs. Cratchit
Brian Worth .... Fred
Glyn Dearman .... Tiny Tim
Roddy Hughes .... Mr. S. Fezziwig
Michael Hordern .... Jacob Marley/Marley's Ghost
Francis De Wolff .... Spirit of Christmas Present
Michael Dolan .... Spirit of Christmas Past
C. Konarski .... Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come
Patrick Macnee .... Young Jacob Marley
Brian Desmond Hurst
Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol
Noel Langley adaptation and screenplay
4. A Christmas Carol (1954) from the show "Shower of Stars"
This version is only a 60 minute episode of "Shower of Stars" but worth a view. This was originally broadcast in color. This is important because RCA introduced the first color television, the CT-100 that year. It was filmed in color but only black & White prints exist today. Note Basil Rathbone as Marley's ghost.
William Lundigan .... HostMary Costa .... Co-host (spoken credit)
Fredric March .... Ebenezer Scrooge
Bob Sweeney .... Bob Cratchit
Queenie Leonard .... Mrs. Cratchit
Christopher Cook .... Tiny Tim
Basil Rathbone .... Marley's ghost
Sally Fraser .... Ghost of Christmas Past/Belle
Ray Middleton .... Fred/Ghost of Christmas Present
Maxwell Anderson adaptation
Maxwell Anderson teleplay A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol
5. Scrooge (1970)
It's one of the very few musical adaptations of Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol and the best one at that (forget Kelsey Grammar's recent version!). This version is basically the same as Dickens but with a few added scenes and, of course, the singing. This aspect drives some away from it but there is plenty of great non-musical scenes and the atmosphere is fantastic. The colors are greyer than most so it seems more real and darker for Scrooge's personality. This version is a lot darker, bordering on horror.
Alec Guinness has to be the best and scariest Jacob Marley's Ghost ever. His ghost still creeps me out, especially his face on Scrooge's door knocker. Two other creepy scenes are one where we see thousands of ghosts flying outside Scrooge's window; supposed to be trapped in limbo. And we see Scrooge go to Hell, if you see it uncut - it's often cut on TV. The other scene is Scrooge in Hell.
Albert Finney is THE best Ebenezer Scrooge I've ever seen. At only 34 at the time of production, the make-up artist did a phenomenal job on making Finney look like an old man but Finney's different mannerisms, movements and voice tones are great as well. He also plays a younger Scrooge just as well.
Richard Beaumont is one of the best Tiny Tim's as well. His songs are so sad.
Kenneth More is one of the MOST cheerful, boisterous and colorful Ghosts of Christmas Present. Just great!
One character who's not part of any other Christmas Carol I've ever seen but I feel deserves mentioning is Anton Rodgers as Tom Jenkins, a broth maker and one of Scrooge's clients. He sings before Scrooge dies but after he dies he has his best song which he starts solo and slowly builds up until it's a huge musical number. The song is "Thank you very much" and Scrooge thinks it positive but really everyone's happy he's dead because their loans are no longer owed to him.
If you haven't seen this version, see it now! The lavish sets alone will make you love it! The end sows tons of old toys like a huge three-foot wide toy carousel.
Scrooge (played by then 34-year old Albert Finney) is actually younger than his nephew Fred (played by then 46-year old Michael Medwin).
Albert Finney .... Ebenezer Scrooge
David Collings .... Bob Cratchit
Frances Cuka .... Mrs. Cratchit
Richard Beaumont .... Tiny Tim
Michael Medwin .... Nephew Fred
Laurence Naismith .... Mr. Fezziwig
Alec Guinness .... Jacob Marley's Ghost
Edith Evans .... Ghost of Christmas Past
Kenneth More .... Ghost of Christmas Present
Paddy Stone .... Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol
6. An American Christmas Carol (1979)
A very non-traditional Christmas Carol in that it's set in America during the Depression with all different character names. Not sure why the names needed to be changed because they're basically the same characters but it doesn't detract from the story. It different enough to feel refreshing yet similar enough that it feels like an old friend.
Henry Winkler plays Benedict Slade, their version of Scrooge. His portrayal both looks and sounds unique for the role. Not that it's bad, just different. Here he's not a banker but a wood furniture business owner. Chris Wiggins (of Friday the 13th The Series fame) plays Mr. Brewster, the Fezziwig character but also pulls double duty as Slade's foster dad, as Slade was in a foster home as a child.
The ghosts are also unique. One an old man and one is a 1970s black man which is rare to see.
Ending s also unique in tat the "Tin Tim" character is sent for surgery and another trouble-making boy at a foster home is helped by Slade because he reminds him of himself as a kid.
The colors are very white so it has more of a bleak, lonely feel to it. Winkler isn't as cheerful as in other adaptations, after the ghosts leave. He went for the subtle approach.
Definitely worth a view!
Henry Winkler .... Benedict Slade
Dorian Harewood .... Matt Reeves
Susan Hogan .... Helen Brewster
R.H. Thomson .... Thatcher
David Wayne .... Merrivale
Chris Cragg .... Jonathan Thatcher
James B. Douglas .... Sam Perkins
Arlene Duncan .... Jennie Reeves
Linda Goranson .... Mrs. Doris Thatcher
Gerard Parkes .... Jessup
Mary Pirie .... Mrs. Brewster
Ken Pogue .... Jack Latham
Chris Wiggins .... Mr. Brewster
Charles Dickens (story "A Christmas Carol")
Jerome Coopersmith (screenplay)
7. A Christmas Carol (1984)
George C. Scott plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the traditional rendition of A Christmas Carol. George C. Scott is great as always. This adaptation is not seen enough on TV. If you come across it on TV, don't pass up on the chance to see this treat.
Director Clive Donner was the film editor on Scrooge (1951).
George C. Scott .... Ebenezer ScroogeDavid Warner .... Bob Cratchit
Susannah York .... Mrs. Cratchit
Anthony Walters .... Tiny Tim
Roger Rees .... Fred Holywell/Narrator
Timothy Bateson .... Mr. Fezziwig
Frank Finlay .... Marley's Ghost
Angela Pleasence .... Ghost of Christmas Past
Edward Woodward .... Ghost of Christmas Present
Michael Carter .... Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Roger O. Hirson (screenplay)
Charles Dickens short story
8. Scrooged (1988)
This is one of my favorite adaptations, partly because I'm a HUGE Bill Murray fan and because it's a comedy version which is rare.
The story is very unique. It's a story within a story. Frank Cross runs a TV cable network and he planned a live adaptation of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. Frank's childhood wasn't a pleasant and he lost his girlfriend, Claire, so he doesn't appreciate the Christmas spirit. Suddenly Frank finds Claire again and old feelings are awakened. But Frank wants both her and his career at the same time. With the help of the three ghosts of Christmas and Claire's love, Frank realizes he must change.
Bill Murray is great as Frank Cross, the Scrooge character. Bill plays it sarcastically mean so it's both rude yet funny at the same time. There's an all-star cast of guest stars from Robert Mitchum as Scrooge's boss, Preston Rhinelander, Robert Goulet as himself (Christmas on the Bayou), Mary Lou Retton as herself, Lee Majors as himself (helping Santa fight a war), Buddy Hackett as Scrooge for the TV special, John Houseman as himself (narrator of the TV special), Bob Goldthwait as Eliot Loudermilk, a worker laid off by Frank, John Glover as Brice Cummings (Frank's new VP), Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present and tons more!
The ghosts are unique. David Johansen is the Ghost of Christmas Past, a loud-mouthed, cigar puffing taxi driver. He is unforgettable. David Johansen is a former member of the 70s rock group; The New York Dolls and singing under the name Buster Poindexter, he had a big hit with the song "Hot, Hot, Hot." Carol Kane plays the Ghost of Christmas Present. Her unique voice adds to the humor as she kicks Murray in the gonads; she's hilarious! The Ghost of Christmas Future is a tall skeleton with a TV for a face which I also take as sort of a statement on society as well as Frank's network career.
Very good adaptation and deserves a view. The ending is so cheerful in a modern sense and Bill reaches out across being behind a came b interacting with those who were in the theater back in 1988. It ends with the Annie Lennox song "Put A Little Love in Your Heart" which always gets my eyes wet.
At the end of the movie, when everybody is singing "Put a little love in your heart", Frank (Bill Murray) says (among many other things): "Feed me, Seymour!" This is a reference to Little Shop of Horrors (1986), in which Murray has a small part.When The Ghost of Christmas Present first appears in the movie, she says to Frank Cross, "I'm a little muddled." This is a direct quote from Glenda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when she first meets Dorothy in Munchkinland.
All of Bill Murray's brothers - John Murray, Joel Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray - make appearances in this film.
Bill Murray .... Frank Cross
Karen Allen .... Claire Phillips
John Forsythe .... Lew Hayward
John Glover .... Brice Cummings
David Johansen .... Ghost of Christmas Past
Carol Kane .... Ghost of Christmas Present
Robert Mitchum .... Preston Rhinelander
John Murray .... James Cross
Pat McCormick .... Ghost of Christmas Present (TV)
Brian Doyle-Murray .... Earl Cross rray)
Chaz Conner .... Ghost of Christmas Future (TV)
Mitch Glazer (written by) &
Michael O'Donoghue (written by)
Charles Dickens (novel A Christmas Carol) (suggestion)
9. A Christmas Carol (1999)
This was a TNT/Hallmark TV movie. It seems that many do not like Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge but I liked him. Most say he seemed too mean-tempered but I felt the opposite. I thought his meanness just didn't seem believable at times. But I still thought he did fine. I also feel that this movie stayed truer to the novel than most of movies.
Worth a view!
Is the first Christmas Carol to incorporate computer-generated graphics. These are used most effectively in the scene where the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge on a whirlwind visit to a lighthouse, a ship at sea, and a group of miners.
Patrick Stewart .... Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge
Richard E. Grant .... Bob Cratchit
Saskia Reeves .... Mrs. Cratchit
Ben Tibber .... Tiny Tim
Dominic West .... Fred (Scrooge's nephew)
Michael Green .... Eli Fezziwig
Bernard Lloyd .... Marley's Ghost
Desmond Barrit .... The Ghost of Christmas Present
Joel Grey .... The Ghost of Christmas Past
Tim Potter .... The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
David Hugh Jones (as David Jones)
Charles Dickens (short story)
Peter Barnes (teleplay)
10. Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)
The 3-D film was produced through the process of performance capture, a technique Zemeckis previously used in his films The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007).
A Christmas Carol began filming in February 2008, and was released on November 3, 2009 by Walt Disney Pictures. It received its world premiere in London, coinciding with the switching on of the annual Oxford Street and Regent Street Christmas lights, which in 2009 had a Dickens theme.
This is one of my favorite renditions and it's keeping true to the original version of the book by Charles Dickens. I really like the performance capture technique.
The film was released in Disney Digital 3-D and was the first Disney movie in IMAX 3-D. It is also Disney's third film retelling of A Christmas Carol following 1983's Mickey's Christmas Carol and 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Jim Carrey as:
- Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted, tight fisted, greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things which engender happiness.
- Ghost of Christmas Past, the first of the three spirits that haunt Scrooge in order to prompt him to repent. He is depicted as a young, androgynous human with a waxy, candle-like body and a flickering flame for a head, who speaks in a dreamy, slow voice with an Irish accent, and sways about.
- Ghost of Christmas Present, the second of the three spirits. He is depicted as a large, jolly man with red hair, a full beard, and a green ermine robe who ages rapidly while he is with Scrooge. He has a tendency to laugh heartily, even as he dies, and carries the sins of Ignorance and Want upon his person, in the forms of horrifying, savage children.
- Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, the third of the three spirits. It is depicted as a large shadow in the shape of the Grim Reaper cast across the ground or a wall, and occasionally emerges into three dimensions to point at something or to chase Scrooge in a large, shadow-like horse carriage.
Robin Wright Penn as:
- Belle, Scrooge's neglected fiancée.
- Fan Scrooge, Scrooge's late sister, who died prematurely after giving birth to Scrooge's nephew, Fred.
Gary Oldman as:
- Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's abused, underpaid clerk.
- Jacob Marley, Scrooge's former business partner.
- Tiny Tim, Cratchit's youngest son. His voice is provided by Ryan Ochoa.
Colin Firth as Fred, Scrooge's optimistic nephew and only living relative.
Cary Elwes as:
- Dick Wilkins, Scrooge's old roommate.
- Mad Fiddler
- Businessman #1
- Portly Gentleman #1, a man who requests from Scrooge a donation to those less fortunate.
- Destitute Man #2
Bob Hoskins as:
- Mr. Fezziwig, the proprietor of a warehouse business for whom Scrooge worked as an apprentice.
- Old Joe, a fence who buys the belongings of the deceased Scrooge from Scrooge's old maid.
Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs. Dilber.
Molly C. Quinn as Belinda Cratchit, Bob Cratchit's wife.
Ron Bottitta as:
- Tattered Caroler
- Well-Dressed Caroler
A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens