Countdown to Christmas

Recently I told a friend about my list of required holiday viewing. There are certain movies I look forward to watching every Christmas. I don’t think I’m the only person who does this.

The most enduring of Christmas stories came from Charles Dickens. Hardly a year goes by without some new take on A Christmas Carol being produced for television or big screen movie release. This year is no exception. Disney has released a new animated version starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge and all the Ghosts.

My favorite Scrooge portrayal is by George C. Scott in a TV version produced in 1984. Not only do I love Scott, I love Tiny Tim being played by a tiny kid. David Warner, often a villain in movies, gives a quiet, dignified performance as Bob Cratchit. And the late, great Edward Woodward portrays the Spirit of Christmas Present as funny, sarcastic, and truly frightening.

There are other traditional versions of A Christmas Carol that are worthy of Dickens’s story. Alistair Sim stars in a 1951 version that is favored by many as most faithful to the original book. Reginald Owen was in a 1938 release with character actor Gene Lockhart as Cratchit. His wife Kathleen and daughter June (yes, the mom from the TV series Lost in Space) play other members of the Cratchit family.

Patrick Stewart, who has performed a wonderful Dickens-style one-man show of A Christmas Carol, plays Scrooge in a 1999 TV-movie. And although Scrooge (1970) is a musical, it still gives us a traditional look at the story. Albert Finney gives a great performance as both young and old Ebenezer.

Of course there are the versions of A Christmas Carol that are aimed primarily toward kids. Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol, in which the famous near-sighted character takes on the role of Scrooge. Mickey’s Christmas Carol features Mickey Mouse and Minnie as the Cratchits, while Scrooge McDuck (who else?) takes on the role of Ebenezer, with Donald Duck as nephew Fred. There’s also The Muppet Christmas Carol starring Michael Caine as Scrooge with Kermit and Miss Piggy as the Cratchits.

Finally, if you’re in the mood for a more modern take on the classic story, check out An American Christmas Carol (1979) with Henry Winkler (yes, Henry Winkler) as Benedict Slade, a businessman in Depression era New England. And Bill Murray in 1988’s Scrooged gives the traditional tale a fun twist as Fred Cross, a television producer who’s shown the error of his greedy ways.

Enjoy! And I can’t resist. “God bless us, every one!” Yes, I like the occasional cliché.