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Scrooged film poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Donner
Produced by Richard Donner
Art Linson
Screenplay by Mitch Glazer
Michael O'Donoghue
Based on A Christmas Carol by
Charles Dickens
Starring Bill Murray
Karen Allen
John Forsythe
Bobcat Goldthwait
Carol Kane
Robert Mitchum
Michael J. Pollard
Alfre Woodard
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Michael Chapman
Edited by Fredric Steinkamp
William Steinkamp
Mirage Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 23, 1988 (1988-11-23)
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million
Box office $60,328,558

Scrooged is a 1988 American Christmas comedy film, a modernization of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The film was produced and directed by Richard Donner, and the cinematography was by Michael Chapman. The screenplay was written by Mitch Glazer and Michael O'Donoghue. The original music score was composed by Danny Elfman.

The film stars Bill Murray, with Karen Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, John Forsythe, Carol Kane, John Houseman, and Robert Mitchum in supporting roles. Murray's brothers Brian, John, and Joel also appear in the film.

The film was marketed with references to Ghostbusters which had been a great success four years earlier. In the USA, the tagline was, "Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's three against one."


Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a cynical television programming executive. He has found great success and wealth, but only by becoming cold-hearted and cruel.

His ruthless concentration on his career has cost him his true love, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). It has also alienated him from his brother James (John Murray), and ruined any chance of having a happy and fulfilling life. Frank overworks his assistant Grace Cooley (Alfre Woodard), forcing her to constantly break plans with her family and neglect her mute son Calvin. When a disturbing TV commercial that Frank personally produced is criticized by timid yes-man Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), Frank responds by firing him on Christmas Eve.

When Cross is given the task of heading up a live Christmas Eve broadcast of A Christmas Carol, his life begins to mirror the story he's producing. The decomposing corpse of his mentor, media mogul Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), comes to tell him the error of his ways, and to announce the impending visitation of three ghosts. Adding to Frank's stress is his boss, Preston Rhinelander (Robert Mitchum), who takes the liberty of hiring an assistant, Brice Cummings (John Glover), who is transparently after Frank's job.

The Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen) appears as a New York City cab driver and takes Frank back to his childhood in 1955. Frank sees himself at four years old; he only gift he receives on Christmas is a pound of veal from his butcher father, who sneers when four-year-old Frank asks for a toy. They then travel to his to his late teens in 1968 when he first met and fell in love with Claire. They then go to 1969 for his anniversary with Claire, and to 1971, the year in which he chose his job as "Frisbee the Dog" over her. The sequence shows how Frank gradually became the man he is in the present.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) then appears as a life-size pixie who delights in slapping and hitting Frank. She shows him how Grace's family lives in poverty because of his stinginess. She reveals that Calvin is mute after being traumatized from seeing his father murdered. Due to Frank's habit, he was shocked to know Grace's husband had died and thought her period of wearing black was a fashion trend. He also sees how much his brother loves and misses him. He's later given a shock when he finds a homeless man he befriended, dead and frozen, after leaving the shelter. Afterwards, he's given a surprise when he finds his brother's Christmas gift to him.

James had sent him an old childhood photo with a sweet message for him. The moment's cut short when, Eliot Loudermilk, drunk and angry, storms the office with a shotgun and tries to murder Frank. The Ghost of Christmas Future, a seven-foot-tall ghoul with a TV screen for a face, then appears and interrupts Loudermilk's rampage. The Ghost shows Frank a future in which Calvin has ended up in a mental hospital, Claire has become as cold and uncaring as he is, and only James and his wife attend Frank's cremation.

Frank finally sees the error of his ways and begs for a second chance. He awakens back in his office, right as the live broadcast is wrapping up. The reformed Frank rehires Loudermilk at a considerable salary increase, steps in front of the rolling studio cameras, and delivers a stirring monologue about spending Christmas with the people you care about and helping those in need. Calvin urges him to add Tiny Tim's phrase, "God bless us, everyone", finally breaking free of his mute condition. Claire appears in the studio and Frank reconciles with her, sharing a romantic kiss as Grace and the cast and crew sing "Put a Little Love in Your Heart".



Production notes[edit]

Sam Kinison was originally slated to play the part of The Ghost of Christmas Past. The part eventually went to David Johansen due to his friendship with Bill Murray.


Critical response[edit]

On Siskel & Ebert & The Movies, Gene Siskel gave it thumbs up while Roger Ebert gave it thumbs down.[1] As of August 5, 2014, the film has a 66% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 39 reviews, with an average score of 6.9/10.[2] The movie gained a mixed reception.[2][3][4][5]

Box office[edit]

The movie was a moderate box office hit taking in $13,027,842 on its opening weekend from 1,262 theaters. It went on to become the 13th highest grossing film of 1988 finishing with 60,328,558.[6][7][8]

DVD & Blu-ray[edit]

Yule Love It! Edition DVD[edit]

Although the DVD had been available for some time, Paramount decided upon a special edition release titled the 'Yule Love It! Edition'.[9] Announced for October 31, 2006, it was never released for unknown reasons.

Special features to be included were:[10]

  • Audio Commentary by Richard Donner,
  • Bill Murray's message from the ShoWest exhibitors convention
  • "A Christmas to Remember" Featurette
  • "Updating Ebenezer" Featurette
  • "Bringing Ghosts to Life" Featurette
  • "The Look of Scrooged" Featurette
  • "On the Set with Bill Murray" Featurette


The Blu-ray was released on November 1, 2011 with a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and the film's theatrical trailer.[11]

Soundtrack and score[edit]


Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 1989
Length 37:50
Label A&M

A&M Records released the soundtrack to Scrooged in 1989. It features 9 songs.

Track listing[12]
No. Title Writer(s) Artist Length
1. "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"   Jackie DeShannon, Randy Myers, Jimmy Holiday Annie Lennox & Al Green 3:48
2. "A Wonderful Life"   Judson Spence, Monroe Jones Mark Lennon 4:19
3. "Sweetest Thing"   U2 New Voices of Freedom featuring Adriane McDonald & George Pendergrass 4:12
4. "The Love You Take"   Dan Hartman Dan Hartman & Denise Lopez 4:21
5. "Get Up 'n' Dance"   L. Mallison, Mohandas Dewese, R. Isaacs Kool Moe Dee 4:09
6. "We Three Kings of Orient Are"   John Henry Hopkins, Jr. Miles Davis, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn & Paul Shaffer 4:43
7. "Christmas Must Be Tonight"   Robbie Robertson Robbie Robertson 4:51
8. "Brown Eyed Girl"   Van Morrison Buster Poindexter 3:34
9. "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)"   Mel Tormé, Robert Wells Natalie Cole 3:53

Al Green and Annie Lennox's version of the song "Put a Little Love in Your Heart", featured in the film, reached #9 in the US, and was a top 40 hit in several countries worldwide.


Danny Elfman's score was released by La-La Land Records late in 2011 (a suite of his score had previously been included on Music For A Darkened Theatre: Vol. 1). Limited to 3000 units, the release contains 34 tracks including source cues (tracks 30-34) used in the film, but not part of the written score. Tracks in bold appear in the previous released suite; asterisked tracks are completely unused in the film, double-asterisked tracks contain unused material. Tracks 22-29 are bonus tracks; track 33 was an arrangement created for Trading Places.

  1. Main Titles§§/Terrorist Attack (2:34)
  2. Eliot Gets Fired/Loud and Clear§§/Frank’s Run (1:22)
  3. Montage: Frank’s Award and Eliot on the Street (1:39)
  4. Lew’s Arrival (2:03)
  5. The Hand Grab (1:51)
  6. Lew’s Reprise (:51)
  7. Claire’s Theme I/Claire’s Theme II* (1:15)
  8. Set Collapse* (:20)
  9. A Horror in Chez Jay/Highball/Waiter Ablaze** (1:20)
  10. Wild Cab Ride (1:33)
  11. Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay§/Cupid’s Arrow/Change of Expression* (1:33)
  12. Eliot Gives Blood/Christmas Present* (1:02)
  13. Fairy (contains "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) (2:15)
  14. Toast to Frank (:32)
  15. The Big Freeze (1:26)
  16. Showtime at IBC (1:08)
  17. Family Portrait/Ghost on Screen (:49)
  18. Eliot Stalks Frank† (1:08)
  19. Asylum/Luncheon/Crematorium/On Fire (3:48)
  20. Hallelujah Chorus* (G.F. Handel)/The Romp† (2:18)
  21. The Big Speech (1:21)
  22. Loud and Clear (alternate) (:30)
  23. Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay§ (alternate) (:43)
  24. Toast to Frank (alternate) (:34)
  25. The Big Freeze (alternate) (1:25)
  26. The Big Freeze (alternate mix) (1:27)
  27. Asylum (no choir) (:59)
  28. Crematorium (more percussion) (1:30)
  29. The Big Speech (alternate) (3:12)
  30. Frank’s Promo (:51)
  31. Frisbee the Dog (:57)
  32. Chez Jay String Quartet - W.A. Mozart (2:43)
  33. Joy to the World - G.F. Handel/F. Watts, arr. Elmer Bernstein (:55)
  34. Jingle Bells - James Pierpont, arr. Danny Elfman (1:48)

§ composed by Henry J. Sayers, arr. D. Elfman

§§ contains “Jingle Bells” (James Pierpont, arr. D. Elfman)

† contains "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Siskel & Ebert & The Movies review
  2. ^ a b Scrooged at Rotten Tomatoes
  3. ^ "Scrooged". Variety. 1987-12-31. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  4. ^ "'Scrooged' (PG-13)". 1988-11-25. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  5. ^ "Films - review - Scrooged". BBC. 2000-11-28. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  6. ^ "'Oliver' and 'Scrooged'-Fast-Food McDickens : Any resemblance between the movies and the classics is strictly coincidental - Los Angeles Times". 1988-12-04. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  7. ^ "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : Laughing All the Way - Los Angeles Times". 1988-01-26. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  8. ^ "Weekend Box Office - Los Angeles Times". 1988-12-28. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  9. ^ "Scrooged : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Scrooged (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  12. ^ "Images for Scrooged - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Discogs. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]