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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's 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, Alfre Woodard, 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 successful but cynical television programming executive for the IBC network headquartered in New York City. He has demanded the network put on a extravagant live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve to seize the ratings opportunity, forcing the network's staff including his direct assistant Grace Cooley (Alfre Woodard) to work on the holiday. When some of his decisions are questioned, he fires timid yes-man Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) on the spot. Frank's boss Preston Rhinelander (Robert Mitchum) takes the liberty of hiring an assistant for Frank, Brice Cummings (John Glover), who is transparently after Frank's job. Hours before the show is set to start, Frank is alone in his office when he is visited by the ghost of his mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), who warns him of the errors of his ways and that three ghosts will visit him over the course of the night. Before he leaves, Lew causes Frank's phone to call Claire Phillips (Karen Allen), Frank's true love who he had foregone when he became a television executive. Claire comes to visit Frank, but finds him too busy with preparations for the show, though leaves him the address of the homeless shelter that she helps out at.

Frank encounters the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), who appears as a taxi driver. The Ghost takes him back to his past to see how his love of television came from the disinterested nature of his parents, and how he had met Claire and the highlights of their relationship before Frank's executive job, showing Frank that he has let his success overwhelm his life. Once returned to the present, Frank goes to the homeless shelter to apologize to Claire, though he still turns bitter when they are interrupted by other workers asking Claire for direction.

Frank returns to ITC to observe the final preparations before the show goes live, when the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane), appearing as a pixie, arrives. She shows Frank how Grace struggles with the long hours he puts her through without being able to care for her family, including her son Calvin who has remained mute following the death of his father, and how his brother James (John Murray) is enjoying his Christmas with his wife and friends, which he had invited Frank to come to knowing that he would have declined. The Ghost leaves Frank in a sewer, where he finds the frozen body of a homeless person that he had met earlier and refused to give money to for batteries for an electric blanket. Frank realizes the impact of even a simple gift can have and struggles to break out of the sewer.

He smashes open a door and appears on the ITC set during the final rehershel. Preston puts Brice in charge fearing that Frank is losing it. Frank returns to his office where he is nearly shot at by a disgruntled Eliot, his firing causing a disastrous turn of events in his life that he blames Frank for. Frank dives into an elevator to find the Grim Reaper-like Ghost of Christmas Future waiting for him. The Ghost shows him that if Frank continues on this path, Claire will give up on the homeless, Calvin will be committed to a mental institution without being to talk, and that Frank will die and be cremated as a ceremony only attended by James and his wife.

Frank is shocked at this revelation, and when the Ghost returns him, he leaves the elevator in a celebratory mood, confusing Eliot. He rehires Eliot on the spot and gets his help to take over the directing of the live show by holding Brice and the production staff at gunpoint. Frank disrupts the show near the end to monologue what he has come to appreciate over the last few hours and criticizing his own decision to run a live show on Christmas Eve. He calls out to James and to Claire over the camera to apologize; Claire, at the shelter, decides to return to the studio, with help of the Ghost of Christmas Past. As he engages the cast and crew to sing, Calvin comes over and speaks for the first time, reminding Frank of the final lines of the show "God bless us, everyone." As Claire and Grace join him, he engages everyone (including the film's audience during the credits) in singing "Put a Little Love in Your Heart", while Lew and the other Ghosts look on, congratulating Frank.



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.


Murray has told Roger Ebert and Entertainment Weekly that he did not get along with film director Richard Donner during production, stating that they would disagree with each other.[1][2][3] Donner said of Murray: "He's superbly creative but occasionally difficult - as difficult as any actor."[4]


Critical response[edit]

On Siskel & Ebert & The Movies, Gene Siskel gave it thumbs up while Roger Ebert gave it thumbs down.[5] 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.[6] The movie gained a mixed to positive reception.[6][7][8][9]

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.[10][11][12]

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'.[13] Announced for October 31, 2006, it was never released for unknown reasons.

Special features to be included were:[14]

  • 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.[15]

Soundtrack and score[edit]


Scrooged Original Motion Picture Soundtrack cover.jpg
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[16]
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. ^ Ebert, Roger (13 July 2015). "BILL MURRAY, "QUICK CHANGE" ARTIST". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Meyers, Kate (19 March 1993). "A Bill Murray filmography". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Mullins, Jenna (18 December 2014). "NEWS/ 56 Facts You May Not Know About Your Favorite Holiday Films". E! News. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Puskar, Susan (18 December 1988). "Bill Murray is a creep in the role of 'Scrooge'". The Blade. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Siskel & Ebert & The Movies review
  6. ^ a b Scrooged at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ "Scrooged". Variety. 1987-12-31. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  8. ^ "'Scrooged' (PG-13)". 1988-11-25. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  9. ^ "Films - review - Scrooged". BBC. 2000-11-28. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  10. ^ Koehler, Robert (1988-12-04). "'Oliver' and 'Scrooged'-Fast-Food McDickens : Any resemblance between the movies and the classics is strictly coincidental - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  11. ^ Voland, John (1988-01-26). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : Laughing All the Way - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  12. ^ Voland, John (1988-12-28). "Weekend Box Office - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  13. ^ "Scrooged : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Scrooged (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  16. ^ "Images for Scrooged - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Discogs. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]