Scrooge (1970 film)

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Scrooge
Scrooge1970Film.jpg
Theatrical release Poster by Joseph Bowler
Directed by Ronald Neame
Produced by Robert H. Solo
Screenplay by Leslie Bricusse
Based on A Christmas Carol by
Charles Dickens
Starring Albert Finney
Alec Guinness
Edith Evans
Kenneth More
Michael Medwin
Laurence Naismith
Music by Leslie Bricusse
Cinematography Oswald Morris
Edited by Peter Weatherley
Production
company
Distributed by National General Pictures
Release dates
  • 5 November 1970 (1970-11-05)
Running time 113 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Scrooge is a 1970 musical film adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic 1843 story, A Christmas Carol. It was filmed in London, directed by Ronald Neame, and starred Albert Finney in the title role. The film's musical score was composed by Leslie Bricusse, and arranged and conducted by Ian Fraser. With eleven musical arrangements interspersed throughout (all retaining a traditional British air about them), the award-winning motion picture is a faithful musical retelling of the original, with one exception noted below. The film received limited praise, but Albert Finney won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy in 1971.

The film received four Academy Award nominations. It is the only live-action version of the story to be nominated for Oscars.

Plot[edit]

Ebenezer Scrooge (Albert Finney) is a cold-hearted and greedy old miser whose only concern is money and profit and hates everything to do with Christmas. After Scrooge scares off a group of boys who were singing a carol outside his door his nephew Fred (Michael Medwin) arrives to invite him to Christmas dinner with his wife and friends. Scrooge though refuses. After Fred leaves Scrooge gives his clerk Bob Cratchit (David Collings) the next day off as it is Christmas but expects him back all the earlier the next morning. Bob meets his two children including Tiny Tim (Richard Beaumont) in the streets and they buy the food for their Christmas dinner. Scrooge meanwhile is surveyed by two other men (Derek Francis and Roy Kinnear) for a donation for the poor but Scrooge refuses, by supporting the prisons and workhouses and even says "if they rather die then they better do it and decrease the surplus population". On his way home Scrooge meets some of his clients including Tom Jenkins (Anton Rogers) and reminds them the debts they owe him. In a running gag Scrooge is stalked and being made fun of by the same urchins seen at the start of the film, calling him "Father Christmas".

Back home in Chambers Scrooge notices that the doorknocker has turned into the face of his seven-year dead partner Jacob Marley (Alec Guinness) followed by a hearse passing him up the stairs. While eating some soup Scrooge hears bells ring before the ghost of Marley arrives in person covered in chains. Scrooge thinks it is just a hoax but sees reason after Marley frightens him. Marley tells Scrooge he wears the chain he made when alive on Earth and tells Scrooge he is close to suffering the same fate as him. After Marley shows Scrooge other ghosts suffering the same fate he returns him home and tells him he'll be haunted by three more spirits and the first will call at one.

As Marley said the Ghost of Christmas Past (Edith Evans) who is more like a Victorian upper-class woman arrives and takes Scrooge to witness his past. Scrooge sees the time he spent the holidays alone at school, until his sister Fan came to collect him. Scrooge then sees when he had a happier Christmas working for Mr. Fezziwig (Lawrence Naismith) and falling in love with his daughter Isabel (Suzanne Neve). Scrooge proposes to Isabel, yet after a long period of being taken for granted, Isabel calls off the engagement as she realizes Scrooge's love for wealth has replaced his love for her.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Kenneth More) a jolly giant shows Scrooge the home of Bob Cratchit and his family. Scrooge sees that Tiny Tim is very ill and the spirit warns if the shadows of the future don't change the boy will die. They then pay a visit to Fred, his wife (Mary Peach) and friends at Fred's home where they toast Scrooge and play The Minister's Cat. Finally the ghost leaves Scrooge but not before telling him life is too short.

The last of the ghosts the Ghost of Christmas yet to Come (Paddy Stone) shows Scrooge what will happen the following Christmas. Scrooge and the spirit witness Tom and the other citizens rejoice at Scrooge's future funeral (Scrooge comically thinks he is being treated like a celebrity). Scrooge discovers Tim had died and is shown his own future grave. The spirit reveals himself as a skeleton (possibly Death or the Grim Reaper). This causes Scrooge to fall into his "grave". In the bowels of Hell Scrooge reunites with Marley who has him tortured by having him wrapped in a huge chain by several devils. Scrooge yells for help and finds himself back in his room.

Scrooge discovers he has time to put things right and becomes a generous man. He buys a turkey and toys for the Cratchits, invites himself to dinner with Fred and his wife and even frees his clients from their debts much to their delight. Scrooge who dressed like Father Christmas thanks Marley for helping him and gets ready to dine with his family.

Cast of characters[edit]

Songs[edit]

  • The Overture, followed by A Christmas Carol – opens the film. It is sung by a chorus over the opening credits about the joys of carolling. An instrumental bit in the middle is a medley of Christmas Carols.
  • Christmas Children – sung by Bob Crachit and his children walking home while shopping in the market area.
  • I Hate People – Scrooge's song on his way home from work.
  • Father Christmas – a comic relief song performed by a group of urchins following Scrooge right after his "I Hate People" song.
  • See the Phantoms – a brief, dark song sung by Marley as he and Scrooge fly through the dark sky, surrounded by phantoms.
  • December the 25th – a rousing jig at Fezziwig's party.
  • Happiness – sung by the love of Scrooge's life, Isabel, while they enjoy each other's company.
  • You...You – sadly muttered by the older Scrooge, watching himself let Isabel go.
  • I Like Life – belted out by the Ghost of Christmas Present and an at first reluctant Scrooge.
  • The Beautiful Day – performed by Tiny Tim for his family.
  • Thank You Very Much – Scrooge is unaware that he is seeing his own funeral in the future (his coffin is brought out of his office while his back is turned). He finds everyone who owes him money, led by hot soup man Tom Jenkins, singing and dancing on his coffin, "thanking" him for dying and cancelling their debts. A flattered Scrooge joins in, not knowing they're rejoicing over his death. This song received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
  • I'll Begin Again – Scrooge's song of redemption when he wakes up, relieved to be alive.

The finale is a huge medley of reprises. First, Scrooge marches through the streets singing I Like Life, then dons a Father Christmas outfit and is paraded through town by the kids singing a happier version of Father Christmas. Following that is a massive reprise of Thank You Very Much performed by Scrooge, Tom Jenkins and the entire town, delighted and grateful at the lender's profound change of heart at having announced cancellation of everybody's debts. Finally, Scrooge goes home and speaks to Marley through his doorknocker (which the spirit had appeared in earlier), even dressing it in his costume hat and beard. Scrooge thanks his partner for all the help and then leaves to prepare for Christmas dinner with his family. A chorus sings a reprise of A Christmas Carol as the film draws to a close with views of the dressed-up doorknocker and a wish of "Merry Christmas".

A soundtrack album containing all the songs from the film was issued on Columbia Records in 1970. Due to legal complications, however, the soundtrack has never been re-released in the CD format. The current Paramount Blu-ray release of the film has removed the Overture (intact on all VHS and DVD releases).

Soundtrack listing[edit]

  1. Overture (removed from current Blu-ray release)
  2. A Christmas Carol – Chorus
  3. Christmas Children – David Collings & Cratchit Children
  4. I Hate People – Albert Finney
  5. Father Christmas – Urchins
  6. See the Phantoms – Alec Guinness
  7. December the Twenty-Fifth – Laurence Naismith, Kay Walsh & Ensemble
  8. Happiness – Suzanne Neve
  9. A Christmas Carol (Reprise) – Chorus
  10. You....You – Albert Finney
  11. I Like Life – Kenneth More & Albert Finney
  12. The Beautiful Day – Richard Beaumont
  13. Happiness (Reprise)
  14. Thank You Very Much – Anton Rodgers & Ensemble
  15. I'll Begin Again – Albert Finney
  16. I Like Life (Reprise) – Albert Finney
  17. Finale: Father Christmas (Reprise) / Thank You Very Much (Reprise) – All
  18. Exit Music (Bonus Track, not included on LP)

Acclaim[edit]

The film was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award in the UK, one Golden Laurel award, four Oscars,[1] and five Golden Globes in the USA, in which Albert Finney won for The Best Motion Picture Actor in a Musical/Comedy in 1971. Finney was only 34 years old at the time he was chosen to play both the old miser and the young man Scrooge of flashback scenes, but his performance was widely praised by the critics and the public. Several critics, however, found fault with Leslie Bricusse's score.[2][3]

Academy Award nominations

A number of well-known British actors appear in the film, such as Alec Guinness as Jacob Marley's ghost, Dame Edith Evans as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Kenneth More as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Original aspect[edit]

Though the film was given a very mild "U" (Universal Audience) rating in the UK and a "G" (General Audience) rating in the US, one rather original aspect of this version of the story is a departure from the novel during the visit of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in an unusual extension of the graveyard scene. In a nightmarish sequence, the ghost shows its face (the face of Death) to Scrooge who falls backwards, screaming, through his own open grave, through a seemingly bottomless shaft, and into the very bowels of Hell. He wakes up in a coffin-shaped crater and meets Marley, who tells him of his appointment as Lucifer's personal clerk and shows him to his icy, rat-infested office. The frightened Scrooge's massive chain then arrives on the backs of several burly, hooded "devils" who wrap it around him, fairly immobilising him, amid his futile cries to Marley for help before finding himself back in his own home. This scene is often edited or removed from television airings (and even on some home video releases of the film, though the current Region 1 and Region 2 DVDs retain the sequence).

Stage adaptation[edit]

In 1992, a stage musical adapted from the film, featuring the Bricusse/Fraser songs and starring Anthony Newley, was mounted in the UK under the title Scrooge: The Musical.

The show was revived in 2003 on a tour of the country by British song and dance man Tommy Steele, and he again reprised the role at the London Palladium in 2004 -making him the performer to have done the most shows at the Palladium. In 2007, Shane Ritchie played the part at the Manchester Palace. The musical was revived at London Palladium in October 2012 with Steele reprising the role. It ran till 5 January 2013.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NY Times: Scrooge". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (20 November 1970). "'Scrooge' Varies Ritual in Version at Music Hall". The New York Times. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Scrooge". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  4. ^ Tommy Steele brings Scrooge back to Palladium from 24 Oct
  • New York Times Movie Reviews [1]
  • Roger Ebert.Com [2]

External links[edit]