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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
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Michael Chapman
Edited by Fredric Steinkamp
William Steinkamp
Mirage Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • November 23, 1988 (1988-11-23)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million
Box office $60.3 million

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 United States, the tagline was, "Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's three against one."


Frank Cross is an inconsiderate and arrogant executive in the IBC television network headquarters. He is preparing an extravagant live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, forcing the network's staff, including his assistant Grace Cooley, to work on the holiday. He also fires the meek Eliot Loudermilk for disagreeing with him, denies his employees their Christmas bonus, and gives everyone on his Christmas list, including Grace and his brother James, a monogrammed towel. Meanwhile, Frank's boss Preston Rhinelander has hired Brice Cummings, who is transparently after Frank's job.

Hours before the show starts, Frank is visited by the ghost of his mentor Lew Hayward, who announces that three ghosts will appear over the course of the night. Lew also causes Frank's phone to call Claire Phillips, Frank's true love from years ago. Claire comes to visit Frank, but he is too busy to talk to her. She leaves him the address of the homeless shelter where she works.

The Ghost of Christmas Past appears as a taxi driver who takes Frank back to his childhood, beginning in 1955. His father Earl is an unloving meatpacking foreman who gives him veal for Christmas and yells at him when he objects. Frank's only solace is in the world of television, foreshadowing his eventual career path. The Ghost then takes Frank forward to 1968-71 to see himself as a young man meeting Claire, and showing how Frank's rise to power changed his emotional life, and that Frank is to blame for the loss of Claire. Returned to the present, Frank goes to the homeless shelter to apologize to Claire and invites her to lunch to mend fences. However, when shelter workers pester Claire, Frank reverts to his old self, and bluntly tells Claire she is letting life pass her by, and to only care about herself.

Back at IBC, Frank watches final preparations before the live show. The Ghost of Christmas Present appears as a cute, yet volatile pixie who goes by the motto, "Sometimes you have to slap people in the face to get their attention". She shows Frank how Grace struggles with the long hours he puts her through, without being able to care for her family. Her son Calvin has been mute since the death of his father five years prior. The Ghost also shows him how James is enjoying Christmas with his wife and friends; James still invites Frank every year, although he never attends. Frank begins to show empathy. The Ghost leaves Frank in a utility space under a sidewalk, where he finds the frozen body of Herman, a homeless man he had met earlier at Claire's shelter; Frank had refused to buy him a cup of coffee. Frank struggles to escape through a boarded-up door, but when he forces the door he crashes through the IBC set during the final rehearsal.

Preston has put Brice in charge, fearing that Frank is having a mental breakdown. Frank returns to his office where he is repeatedly shot at by a furious Eliot, whose life he has ruined. Frank dives into an elevator, and finds the Ghost of Christmas Future, appearing as a towering cloaked skeleton with tortured souls trapped inside his ribcage and a TV for a head, waiting for him. This Ghost shows him that if Frank continues on this path, Claire will become cold-hearted and Calvin will be committed to a mental institution. Frank then sees himself in a casket at a funeral only attended by James and his wife, Wendie. However, just as the casket is cremated, Frank is returned to reality.

Horrified and humbled by what he's been shown, Frank returns a changed man. He rehires Eliot on the spot, and they take over the live show by holding Brice and the control box at gunpoint. Frank goes on-camera, improvising a speech that denounces his own decision to run a live show on Christmas Eve instead of taping it, and explains what he has learned over the last few hours. He apologizes on-air to James and to Claire. Claire rushes to IBC, given a lift by the Past Ghost.

As Frank encourages the cast and crew to sing, Calvin speaks for the first time in five years, reminding Frank of the final lines of the show "God bless us, everyone." As Claire and Grace join him, Frank tells everyone to join him in singing "Put a Little Love in Your Heart", while Lew and the other Ghosts, including Herman, look on, happy and impressed.



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 January 19, 2016, the film has a 68% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews, with an average score of 6/10 and the consensus: "Scrooged gets by with Bill Murray and a dash of holiday spirit, although it's hampered by a markedly conflicted tone and an undercurrent of mean-spiritedness."[6] The movie gained a mixed to positive reception.[6][7][8][9]

Box office[edit]

Scrooged 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 and 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
Singles from Scrooged
  1. "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"
    Released: October 1988[16]
  2. "The Love You Take"
    Released: December 1988[17]
  3. "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)"
    Released: December 1988[18]
  4. "We Three Kings Of Orient Are"
    Released: 1988[19]
  5. "A Wonderful Life"
    Released: 1988[20]
  6. "Sweetest Thing"
    Released: 1988[21]
  7. "Christmas Must Be Tonight"
    Released: 1988[22]

In 1989, A&M Records released the soundtrack to Scrooged, which features 9 songs.

Track listing[23]
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.

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. ^ "Scrooged Blu-ray Review". 
  15. ^ "Scrooged (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  16. ^ "Annie Lennox And Al Green - Put A Little Love In Your Heart". 
  17. ^ "Dan Hartman And Denise Lopez - The Love You Take". 
  18. ^ "Natalie Cole - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)". 
  19. ^ "Miles Davis, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn & Paul Shaffer - We Three Kings Of Orient Are". 
  20. ^ "Mark Lennon - A Wonderful Life". 
  21. ^ "New Voices Of Freedom - Sweetest Thing". 
  22. ^ "Robbie Robertson - Christmas Must Be Tonight". 
  23. ^ "Images for Scrooged - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Discogs. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]