An American Christmas Carol, actor Henry Winkler
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Top Customer Reviews
A nice twist (sorry, Oliver!) to a true classic.
By the way, for my money, the finest original version out there is the George C. Scott version followed closely by Alistair Sim.
The movie translates Dickens' classic story from 19th century England to Depression-era New England. The result is very effective. For me, an American born to parents who grew up in the Depression, the 20th century setting made the story feel very real. The writers and director made excellent decisions in their choice of sets. Three notable examples were the New England furniture factory as the setting for Slade's youth, the newly-conceived idea of consumer credit as the source of his subsequent wealth and avarice, and the choice of an African-American as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come ("You must be Future," Slade declares, cowering before him).
Winkler's performance is brilliant. He captures the essence of Slade perfectly, and makes the gradual transformation from miser to redeemed man seem natural and believable. The scene at the Thatcher (a.k.a. Cratchit) household at the end of the film never fails to bring tears to my eyes and those of my family. The supporting cast performs ably as well, making this a Christmas classic that one can watch every year.
"An American Christmas Carol" debuted in 1979, midway through Winkler's popular "Happy Days" television series run. After a few years of reruns, it disappeared from view until recently, when it became available on DVD and video. I heartily recommend it for your holiday DVD collection.
However, I was transfixed by this adaptation on the Dickens story and was genuinely moved by Winkler's ( Benedict Slade ) transformation at the end. Winkler is simply superb: believable, funny, dramatic, and imminently likable even as the curmudgeon. The supporting cast is wonderful as well even though most of them, with the possible exception of David Wayne, will be unknown to most viewers. The actor who plays Thatcher (the "Cratchit" character in the Dickens novel) does a wonderful job of being as compassionate as the role demands without being too "soft".
The actors playing the roles of Mr. Brewster and Helen Brewster also hold their own and give Winkler solid performances to react to even with limited screen time.
The movie looks and feels like I would imagine turn of the century and Depression era New England to look and feel like to an outsider: quaint, majestic, proud; yet tired and despairing.
My only problem with the movie, and this is REALLY nitpicking, is that they simply made Winkler look too old for the latter Slade ("Scrooge") part. the movie does an excellenet job of letting us know when things are happening, even in the Christmas Past scenarios, e.g., we know Slade and Helen broke up around 1917 because of the backdrop of the war effort (WW I). The contemporary story is set in 1933 and Slade looks like he has aged forty years instead of only 16 or so. He looks MUCH older than his contemporaries. However, maybe they intended to achieve this effect to accentuate his gnarliness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Fonz, who knew... this was a good take on the classic... not a waste of time... You probably know how the story is going to come out, but it is an enjoyable trip,... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Richard
I do not understand why this is not shown more than it is a Christmas time.
It is a semi-modern update on the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Read more
A version of Christmas Carol. It's a good story based on the familiar theme with Henry Winkler as the Scrooge character. Read morePublished 7 days ago by SE in NY