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A Christmas Carol (1938)

Reginald Owen , Gene Lockhart , Hugh Harman , Edwin L. Marin  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (544 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, Terry Kilburn, Barry MacKay
  • Directors: Hugh Harman, Edwin L. Marin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 69 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (544 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000B5XOZ2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,156 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Christmas Carol" on IMDb

Special Features

2 Festive Vintage Featurettes: Jackie Coopers Christmas Story, Judy Garland Sings Silent Night, Classic Oscar Nominated Cartoon Peace on Earth

Editorial Reviews

Christmas Carol, A (1938) (DVD)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
197 of 205 people found the following review helpful
As a child, I remember my mother watching this on TV every year. When I was slightly older, I became wrapped up in the magic of "A Christmas Carol," and would eagerly await this version on AMC every year. I never understood why Alastair Sims' 1951 version was heralded as the ultimate version; for me, it was too contrived, too melodramatic, and Sims chews up the scenery.

This 1938 version is a warmhearted take on Dickens' classic tale of greed and redemption. Bob Crachit's family is given a greater role than in the original novel, and the strength of the ensemble cast shines. Reginald Owen as Scrooge was a last-minute replacement, since Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life") was ill. Gene and Kathleen Lockhart shine as the Cratchits (their daughter June made her debut in this), Terry Kilburn is a hyper but cute Tiny Tim, Barry McKay makes a dashing Fred, and Leo G. Carroll makes for a frightening Marley's ghost.

The sets of wintertime London are charming and varied, the costumes lavish, and Franz Waxman's score perfectly accents tender scenes without overwhelming. This is the first time that the 1938 version is available on DVD (in its original glorious B&W and not the awful colorized version), and it includes several brief extras: the film's original theatrical trailer, 2 festive vintage featurettes: Jackie Cooper's Christmas Party and Judy Garland Sings "Silent Night" and the classic Oscar®-nominated cartoon Peace on Earth. Sure to bring holiday cheer to your home, this wonderful adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" shouldn't be missed!
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a Christmas Carol with Victorian feeling November 20, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Some people prefer the Alistair Sim version of this tale because Sim is a warmer, more sympathetic Scrooge from the start, but if you want a Scrooge who's more like the Ebeneezer we all remember from reading the book, Reginald Owen does a great job. He's a tough, cantankerous old bird, but that makes his transformation at the end all the more touching. Another wonderful feature of this movie is that it was made in the '30s, so there were people at the studio then who remembered Victorian Christmases firsthand, including Owen, who was born in 1887. Regardless of a few details that have been left out for the sake of brevity, this film has a very authentic look and atmosphere, and the script is excellent.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This scrooge is my favorite version! November 24, 2004
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Although I give praise to the 1951 version of "A Christmas Carol" featuring Alastar Sim, I too, favor the 1938 version starring Reginald Owen, and wonder why it hasn't yet been released on DVD. I first saw this version in the mid '60s, and did my best to catch it every year on television (before video tapes). The cast was great, along with the acting! It will always be Number 1, with Alastar Sim's version Number 2!

An update to my review! Reginald Owen's 1938 version of "A Christmas Carol" is now available on DVD - I just got mine Dec. 8th, 2005 - get yours - now!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the Christmas season May 26, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the four Christmas movies we watch each year. The others are the 1951 version of Christmas Carol, George C. Scott's version, and the Albert Finney musical version ("Scrooge"). Each version is excellent in its own way, and you will enjoy every one of them. However, this version is the one I grew up on and like the most, marginally as that may be. Reginald Owen plays a wonderful Scrooge, and Gene Lockhart is the best of the Bob Cratchits. I particularly like what I perceive of as the authenticity of the home in which the Cratchits live... it seems so much more Victorian than in the other versions. The Cratchit family life as seen in this movie sets it apart from the others. Who cares if any of the versions don't mirror the exact scripting of Dickens' novel.... the story is excellent. I just wish that this version was on DVD, in both the original B&W and in the computerized color.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Christmas Carol, and the most memorable. November 28, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Many of the reviews here rate this movie as the poor cousin of the 1951 version. I own the 1951 version and can honestly say that it falls short of the "Original" 1938 version. First of all it has the Lockharts in it, that alone makes the movie superior. However the Ghost of Christmas past is played with far more joviality, Scrooges sister is much better as the younger version seen in this movie, I firmly believe that the Scrooge Character is more palatable than the one that Sims plays.

Given a choice I will pick this movie over the 1951 movie any day of the week and twice on sunday. GET THIS MOVIE.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reginald Owen as Scrooge in the "other" black & white one November 20, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This 1938 film of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is the "other" version of the classic Yule time story, which is to say that when most people think of the great black & white version they have in mind the 1951 film with Alastair Sim. The 1938 film stars Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge, and if it is not a great version of the tale it is still a solid effort. Owen made over 100 films in his career, playing first Dr. Watson and then Sherlock Holmes in the early 1930s and ending his career as Admiral Boom in "Mary Poppins" and Commodore Dodds in "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."
Almost exclusively a character actor and supporting player throughout his career, he got to play Scrooge when a last minute replacement was needed for an ailing Lionel Barrymore, who had regularly performed the story as a radio play each Christmas (similar to Patrick Stewart's recent experience doing "A Christmas Carol" as a one-man show before doing the 1999 made for television version). Barrymore suggested Owen for the role. Of course, Barrymore would eventually play one of the greatest Scrooge-like characters when he was Old Man Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life," but it was Owen who got his biggest share of cinematic immortality with this film, the oldest of the various versions of "A Christmas Carol" that is still worth catching.
From a production standpoint MGM's film is better than the 1951 black & white version, but the latter has Sim as the definite Scrooge and that makes all the different. Still, Owen is more than competent in the role and his performance is distinguished from the rest in that he clearly enjoys being a mean one more than any other Scrooge.
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