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196 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first memories of holiday movies, and still my favourite...relive the timeless magic
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...
Published on November 14, 2005 by Bundtlust

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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Nice Version of the Classic
The world still awaits the perfect version of this "song in prose" cautionary Christmas tale, but I like this version primarily (as a supplement to the Sim version) because of its increased focus on the story of Bob Cratchit's family and Scrooge's relationship to them before and after his night of spirits. There simply are beats here that are missing from...
Published on December 12, 1999 by S. H. Towsley


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196 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first memories of holiday movies, and still my favourite...relive the timeless magic, November 14, 2005
This review is from: A Christmas Carol (DVD)
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
This review is from: A Christmas Carol [VHS] (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
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This review is from: A Christmas Carol [VHS] (VHS Tape)
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
By 
F. Healy (Pinehurst, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Christmas Carol [VHS] (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
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This review is from: A Christmas Carol (DVD)
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
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This review is from: A Christmas Carol [VHS] (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. In the early scenes, when Scrooge is able to give full vent to his feelings and before his ghostly start his spiritual rehabilitation, Owen makes this Scrooge the most detestable of them all. The rest of his performance is solid, but the early stuff is his best, although I do like his line at the end to his stunned nephew that he appreciates how much difference a smile on his Uncle Scrooge's face makes.
The production values are pretty good for this 1938 film, which was a fairly big budget effort by MGM. The most familiar faces are those of Leo G. Carroll, who plays a textbook Marley's Ghost (he would be the scientist whose experiment goes astray in "Tarantula" and Mr. Weatherby on television's "Man From U.N.C.L.E"), and Ann Rutherford, who is the Ghost of Christmas Past (she would be Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy series and Carreen O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind"). The final judgment is not that there is anything markedly wrong with this version of "A Christmas Carol," but just that there are others that are better. Still, fans of the story should make a point of checking this one out at some point during a future Holiday season.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good version of a great story, December 22, 2005
This review is from: A Christmas Carol (DVD)
The 1938 version of "A Christmas Carol" is full of colorful renderings (even though it's in black-and-white) of very familiar Dickens characters, Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim among them. Reginald Owen does a good job as Scrooge - showing both his stingy ill-humor and his awakening as a human being -- although one wonders how much better the movie might have been if Lionel Barrymore had reprised his regular radio role as Scrooge here. (This was apparently the original intention of MGM, but Barrymore had health problems that prevented his participation. And he eventually played his own version of Scrooge in "It's a Wonderful Life," of course.) Well-known character actor Gene Lockhart is a bit more portly as Bob Cratchit than I had imagined that character, but he does his usual great job of portraying the downtrodden Cratchit who maintains a good humor while enduring Scrooge's abuse. Lockhart's real-life wife and kids, including young June Lockhart, are featured as other members of the Cratchit family, with the exception of Tiny Tim, who is played by Terry Kilburn. Kilburn is a bit too cute for my taste, but I have to admit that Dickens seems to have intended Tim to be cute. Ann Rutherford, often seen as Andy Hardy's girlfriend Polly Benedict, does a fine job as the ghost of Christmas past (although the blonde hair gives her a very different look). Others have pointed out that MGM cut and changed the story a good bit, but if you can overlook that, this is a nice, brisk telling of a great tale.

The extras on this disc are outstanding, although perhaps not as numerous as those for some modern movies. The "Christmas Carol" trailer is especially interesting, because Lionel Barrymore appears in it to tout his friend Reginald Owen as Scrooge, apparently to help audiences get over their disappointment that Barrymore himself wasn't playing the role himself after appearing in it famously on radio.

The "Christmas Carol" disc includes "Jackie Cooper's Christmas Party," in which the child star ("The Champ," "Treasure Island") hosts a party for his friends on an MGM soundstage, with Clark Gable, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, and other stars serving dinner for the kids. (Look for a very amusing Santa Claus played by - well, I won't ruin the surprise.) The disc also has a short film of young Judy Garland singing "Silent Night" with a choir, and the Oscar-nominated cartoon "Peace on Earth" (1939), which laments man's self-destructive warring instinct (and which was remade in the 50s as "Good Will To Men" - both with a message that's still directly relevant).

If you like this great movie, you may want to consider getting the excellent Classic Holiday Collection, which includes this film along with two other great classics, "Christmas In Connecticut" and "Boys Town."
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Everything For Everybody!" ~ A Very Merry Christmas To Us All, December 16, 2005
This review is from: A Christmas Carol (DVD)
Now with the release of the '38 version of 'A Christmas Carol' I can once again enjoy the antics of the grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge as played by Reginald Owens. In my opinion not as good as the later Alastair Sim version in '51, but all in all a wonderful film that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

This version is not as dark and scary as the '51 production, so if you have a young child you want to introduce to this wonderful Christmas story of transformation and redemption for the first time this is definitely the version they should view first. One of the essentials for your DVD Christmas collection!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reginald Owen as "Scrooge". Ann Rutherford & June Lockhart, December 15, 2003
By 
James McDonald (Lancaster, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Christmas Carol [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is one classic version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" I have never seen before until now. In fact, it's quite delightful. Not even scary. It is fine for children to watch. The film starts and ends with the song "Silent Night". This is the black & white 1938 film, Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" with Reginald Owen as "Ebenezer Scrooge".
Scrooge is a hard working older man. His nephew (Barry MacKay) is full of Christmas cheer, but Scrooge does not care for Christmas at all. Christmas makes him angry. He doesn't want to hear about it. "Bah-Humbug"! He doesn't like to give his loyal worker Bob Cratchit (Gene Lockhart) a Christmas day off, but he will. Mr. Cratchit even has to ask for his wages. At least Mr. Cratchit will spend Christmas with his family, his wife (Kathleen Lockhart) and five children, the youngest boy, "Tiny Tim" (Terry Kilburn) is crippled.
Scrooge lives alone. On this night, Christmas Eve, he thanks he saw his former work partner, Jacob Marley's face on the door knocker. In fact, as Scrooge readies for bed at 10:00pm, he is visited by the ghost of marley (Lynne Carver). He warns Scrooge he will be haunted by three spirits this night. At 1:00am, he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Ann Rutherford). She takes him on a journey to his past as a young boy (Ronald Sinclair). At 2:00am, he is awaken to see the Ghost of Christmas Present (Lionel Braham). He shows Scrooge the way things really are. And at 3:00am, he meets the Ghost of Christmas Future (D'Arcy Corrigan).
Ann Rutherford next year would play "Carreen O'Hara" in Gone With The Wind (1939). That is a young June Lockhart (Lassie, Lost In Space) as "Belinda Cratchit". She says "I know, I know. Sausages!" As of this writing, of the cast, Ann Rutherford, Terry Kilburn and June Lockhart are still with us and no doubt enjoying this classic they were in and will enjoy many Christmas Days to come.
Film runs 69 minutes.
Also available in color-computerized version.
The computer-colorized version is a process that was used in the 1980's to add some color to an original black & white film. It may not be a true color of a dress worn, but it does give the movie more depth and brings out many things you did not notice in the original b&w version. Color makes it more enjoyable to watch even in this Christmas film.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Nice Version of the Classic, December 12, 1999
By 
S. H. Towsley (Fort Wayne, IN & Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Christmas Carol [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The world still awaits the perfect version of this "song in prose" cautionary Christmas tale, but I like this version primarily (as a supplement to the Sim version) because of its increased focus on the story of Bob Cratchit's family and Scrooge's relationship to them before and after his night of spirits. There simply are beats here that are missing from the other classic version, with Alistair Sim. There were many famous personages who in their day tackled the task of a definitive Scrooge for film or radio, among them Ronald Colman, Lionel Barrymore (signed for this movie but released due to ill health), and Orson Welles. But out of all of those who have attempted the role on film, including Patrick Stewart, George C. Scott, Albert Finney, Tim Curry (in an animated version), and others, none has brought him to convincing life as well as either the Sim or the Owen versions. In fact, my next favorite Scrooge may well be Henry Winkler in the updaged American Christmas Carol. So I recommend first the book itself by Dickens, then this version along with the Sim for a more complete experience of the classic story of A Christmas Carol on film. And give Winkler a try, too.
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A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol by Edwin L. Marin (DVD - 2005)
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