181 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2003
While this version of the classic Dickens' tale did not receive critical acclaim, it remains one of my favorites and richly deserves this DVD release.
Albert Finney is magical in his portrayal of Scrooge, transforming his physical appearance through the art of makeup and fine acting from a robust youth to an aged man during the course of the story.
The supporting cast is also remarkable, and the songs add flavor to the overall atmosphere of Dickens' era London, as well as great and unexpected depth to the core theme of the story: the precarious reclamation of a person's soul.
Dickens' brilliant story manages to convey religious themes without preaching, and provides an accessible character in Scrooge that we can understand, root for, and ultimately, rejoice with and learn from when his heart is turned outward to his fellow man.
Vastly entertaining and remarkably fresh, this life-affirming version of "A Christmas Carol," along with many of its songs, will stay with viewers long after the final credits have rolled. For me, "Scrooge" has become a treasured Christmas tradition alongside so many other beloved yule time favorites. I applaud its long overdue DVD release!
175 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2003
SCROOGE has been a guilty pleasure of mine for many years. As a kid (before cable came along) I hoped that one of the local stations would play the film around Christmas time. I probably haven't seen SCROOGE since I was 11 or 12 years old.
The newly released DVD looks fantastic. The film is 33 years old, and its production design and colors are rendered well on the DVD. The overture is included.
Here's some quick impressions after seeing the film again:
- Alec Guinness is a genius! As Marley's ghost, Guiness has some very funny moments. Watch his performance closely: Guiness achieves "ghostliness" without the aid of digital effects. Watch him "float" parts of his body, especially his hands when he sits down. The walk, the voice, the "floating". Simply brilliant.
- There are several very good songs. My favorites: "I Like Life", "Thank You Very Much", and "Happiness".
- I actually like the flashbacks when Scrooge is young and in love. Very touching. And pretty.
- They really edited this film for TV! There's scenes in SCROOGE that I've *never* seen before; specifically, the scene in hell at the end. Funny!
So, even though SCROOGE brought Christmas into my house in September, it was a welcomed, early celebration.
104 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2005
Albert Finney is simply brilliant in this wonderful adaptation of
Dicken's timeless story.
The production values are scrumptious. The scenes of the streets and inhabitants of London are brought to vivid life.
You'll feel as if you are walking right along with Scrooge as he collects from those who owe him. Right down to wanting to partake of the hot soup a vendor gives him.
Scrooge's home, cold-cold grey and unloved and unlived in. A
haunting metaphor for his life as he lives it.
The songs tell the story almost better than Dicken's prose.
Alec Guinness is perfect as Marley's ghost.
All the visitations are splendidly moody and spooky.
Kenneth Moore as the ghost of Christmas Present is big and brassy and wonderful.
Dame Edith Evans is an effective Christmas Past with her distinctive voice and elegant bearing.
All the supporting characters are wonderful.
Bob Crachitt and family singing in their small flat is
Considering that Albert Finney was a very young man portraying an old curmudgeon, his performance was STELLAR.
The flashbacks of Scrooge as a young man in love and his burgeoning love of work and money, then to Scrooge, an old and isolated old man is a chance to watch a brilliant actor at work.
I watch this film each and every year. Watching Scrooge be redeemed and find his way is what it is all about.
I couldn't possibly choose a favorite song. They are all wonderful.
I Love this film.
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2005
I have loved this 1970 musical version of the old Dickens novel since I was an 8 year-old girl and the staff at my school adopted the song "Thank You Very Much" for one of our school pageants. This is a charming and magical film with the heart put right into it every step of the way, not to mention that Albert Finney is one of my favorite old school actors.
Sure, there were liberties taken, but IT'S A MUSICAL, for crying out loud, and a handsome one at that. If you don't like musicals, stop reading my review and, in fact, why are you even reading any of the others? Unlike most musicals, however, this one manages to keep a strong storyline intact, with or without the songs, and nowhere is this made more clear than when Ebenezer Scrooge (Albert Finney), is confronted by the ghost of Christmas future. Some people have said that this movie tends to be scary, but I think it is more creepy than scary, except for this one pivotal scene. It is wonderful to see Finney at the top of his game (Isn't that common for him anyway?), as one of the most effective and sympathetic--at times even empathetic--Scrooges to grace filmdom? I love his portrayal of the old miser from the fact that he's such a tight rich man that he dresses lousy compared to the other rich people you see on the streets, and his house is dark, almost barren, not unlike the man himself.
I absolutely love David Collings' performance as Bob Cratchet, which is so well done that you understand how he and his family are richer than Scrooge in their poverty from the outset. In fact, the entire cast is exceptional, and Alec Guiness gives a darkly humorous performance as the ghost of Jacob Marley that often shows his character's sardonic wit in his resentment of having to lug around a chain he "gets" to warn his former business partner about. Another actor who impressed me in this adaptation was Kenneth Moore as the Ghost of Christmas Past. "Come here, you weird little man," always makes me laugh.
This movie is just what the doctor ordered if you are getting bah humbuggish about the oversaturation of the holiday's exploitation. I don't care if turkeys are indigenous to the U.S. as one writer complained. America could have imported them live to England back in 1860 by boat, now couldn't they, and wouldn't that have looked like an exotic delicacy for the holiday to both rich and poor alike in Victorian England? Beautiful costumes, and lovely sets only make this underrated holiday treasure more of a delight.
Watch for some of the best scenes as Albert Finney plays the young Ebenezer who is engaged to Fezzywink's daughter Isabelle during the beautiful number "Happiness." This is some of the most gorgeous cinematography in the movie. That brings up another issue: Leslie Bricusse's musical score is wonderful and, in fact, I had this movie in last night simply because I wanted to hear "I Like Life!" How anyone can dismiss this beautifully done musical is beyond me, because I have seen several adaptations of the Dickens novel, and this is my favorite. Beside that, I bet you can't get "Thank You Very Much" out of your head long after you've finished watching this charming, thought provoking, and well-crafted Christmas gem.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 1997
This musical version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol will move you to tears, have you singing along with the memorable songs, and charm you with its exquisite Dickensian sets. Albert Finney's portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge is perfect to a T. From the opening scene in his counting house, Scrooge's poor treatment of his clerk, Bob Cratchit, convinces us that he has not an ounce of good will or love in his miserable old heart. The scene that follows Scrooge home is priceless, beginning with the song "I Hate People", and continuing as Scrooge visits each person who owes him money, and they beg him for more time to pay. When Scrooge gets home, he is visited by his deceased business associate, Joseph Marley, and the special effects are quite good, especially considering this movie was made in 1970.
Of the three ghosts that visit Scrooge that night (The Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future), the Ghost of Christmas Present is the most fun. You'll find yourself singing along with "I Like Life" and laughing as Scrooge gets into the parlor game The Minister's Cat. One scene I found particularly funny was when Scrooge sits in invisibly on his nephew's Christmas party (unbeknownst to the guests), and someone asks the nephew why he always toasts the health of his Uncle Ebenezer. Scrooge nearly explodes when his nephew calls him a "loathsome old carcass", but relaxes when he wraps it up with "besides, I like the old fellow."
The scene in hell is one of the funniest in the film, especially the surprise awaiting Scrooge in his personal chamber. I won't spoil it for you by saying any more. One note: the TV versions of this movie always cut out this entire hell scene, a big loss. Get the video!
This is one of my favorite Christmas movies, and I try to catch it every year.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2005
You can say what you like about all the other Christmas Carols out there - but this is the only one (that I'm aware of) in which the same actor plays both the older and younger Scrooge. Every year I watch this film, and every year I am amazed when Albert Finney reappears later in the film as the younger Scrooge. Then I remember that he was only 34 in 1970 when he played this role!
Finney is best known for his portrayal of Tom Jones in the film by that name; but I don't believe he ever surpassed his portrayal of Scrooge. I don't think most people even realize that it is the same actor playing both roles because they are so different. He really does look and act like an embittered old man as the older Scrooge AND a hopeful and handsome young man as the younger. It's incredible.
Another thing that makes this the best of all Christmas Carols is the over-all look and tone: it is joyfully festive, full of street scenes and interactions with the various people who owe Scrooge money. Other versions are woefully lacking in this aspect. It also contains the best music of all the versions since it is, after all, a musical. The sets are big and wonderful, and the scene in hell is the most developed of all versions.
There is also a wit and humor to SCROOGE that is lacking in other versions. Not only is Albert Finney funny as the main character, he is also the butt of endless jokes by the other characters, especially the ghosts. And there is a wonderfully sardonic wit to the Marley character, played by Alec Guiness, that makes him perfect as Marley, and the perfect counterpoint to Scrooge. Other clever renditions are Edith Evans as the Ghost of Christmas Past (the only female ghost that I'm aware of); Kenneth More as the Ghost of Christmas Present (another witty, almost sarcastic character - and unforgettable); Michael Medwin as an amiable nephew Fred; Laurence Naismith as a loveable Fezziwig; and perhaps the best of the Bob Cratchits, David Collings. Collings draws true empathy from us, so that when Father Christmas shows up at his house, we are as overjoyed as he is.
Another thing that makes this film special are the children, and the scenes involving toys. After all, this is a Christmas story, and Christmas is, to a large part, about children; yet, in most versions, the kids take a back seat to the grown-ups. Not here. Tiny Tim, played by Richard Beaumont, is as good a Tim as there ever was, and there are plenty of other moments involving kids (the caroling boys that harass Scrooge, the toy shop, the Punch & Judy show, the Cratchit children, the boys choir at the church, etc.) that make this a truly family film.
There are many wonderful Scrooges out there, including the classic film version by Alastair Sim, the George C. Scott version and the Hallmark Hall of Fame version starring Patrick Stewart. All are wonderful. But none of them contain a better performance than the one given by Albert Finney, and in none of them does the star play both roles, as he does - and so convincingly. That, plus all the other wonderful aspects of this film, make it the best Christmas Carol to date, and one worth watching every year.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 1999
Albert Finneys "Scrooge" is by far the best Holiday Classic. There will never be another one like it. For the past 17 years this movie has been a traditon of mine and now my own families. Albert Finney is wonderful and no one has been able to play the part of Scrooge as he did. I will watch it 2-3 times during the holidays. Despite what the critics have said, i think the music is wonderful. My wife and I will even listen to the music playing from the tape while putting up our decorations. This leads me to ask is there a soundtrack available? If so, could someone please let me know how to get a hold of it. I've had no luck locating one. This is a movie that is very special to me and will be passed down and enjoyed with my new born son. The joy that this film brings is one that all should take in during the holidays. Merry Christmas and from the words of Tiny Tim..."God Bless Us Everyone".
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Scrooge is a wonderful musical version of Dicken's "A Christmas Carol." It is my favorite version, with the 1951 Alistair Sim (black and white, non-musical) version a close second. I saw this in the theater, and loved it so much I bought a $90 rental market-priced VHS copy as soon as it was available. The DVD is far superior to the VHS tape, particularly since the letterbox lets one see the whole picture instead of the panned and cropped stuff on tape.
Albert Finney is, of course, fantastic as Scrooge, and the supporting cast is excellent as well. My favorite has to be Kenneth More as the Ghost of Christmas Present. He is one of my favorite British actors anyway, and he sets the high mark for that role, IMHO.
The scene in the future with the song "Thank You Very Much" and the Hell scene are on the DVD in their full length (or nearly so). They are usually edited out partially or completely when the movie is aired on TV, because apparently they offend some people. This ruins the film and essentially makes nonsense of the scene back in his room with the sheet knottted around his neck. While not identical to the book, these scenes are well integrated into the movement of the plot, and the reprise of the song after Scrooge's transformation underscores that change beautifully. The blending of this song being sung by the "common folk" of the town with the choir from church singing a more religious-sounding tune could be seen as a symbolic blending of Christian and Pagan Winter holiday celebrations, if one were so inclined as to look for that kind of symbolism. While the film is spiritually oriented, there is not a Christian focus. It is almost a secular spirituality, if there is such a thing. It is well to remember that Christmas is actually a Pagan holiday with a thin veneer of Christianity on top.
The dialog is witty and well done, even if it is not exactly verbatim from Dicken's text. The staging, scenery and production values all show up very well in the DVD transfer. I found myself pointing out all sorts of detail in the sets that I hadn't seen in the other versions, to the point of annoying others watching the film with me.
The story is a classic one of redemption, and this version is energetic, uplifting, and fun. It is one of those films that leaves you singing the songs and dancing around the dinner table. (And I don't even like musicals! My attitude toward most musicals is summed up beautifully by MAD magazine's spoof of Sound of Music; which opens with the Julie Andrews character singing "How come I'm alone, and there's so much music?") (And yes, I do realize I just revealed how old I am.) The only exception to liking the music is that I always fast forward through the Tiny Tim song. (Sorry, dude. Just not my cup of tea.)
This is a great Christmas movie, of course. I use it and a few others, (It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife - Cary Grant version, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, etc.) to build up a bit of extra holiday cheer. I heartily recommend this movie to those who like good musicals, uplifting movies, and well produced films in general. As far as which film version is better, most of the major ones, including "Scrooged" with Bill Murray, have something interesting to offer. I enjoy having the variety of different versions to explore the different ways the story can be told, and see the different intrepretations of the characters.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2005
I have read A Christmas Carol several times; and though this is a musical, I do not think it takes away at all from Dickens' classic story. Rather, I believe it is a wonderful tribute to it. Ebenezer Scrooge is one of my favorite literary characters of all time; and Albert Finney brings him to life perfectly, making the miser loveable and sympathetic throughout. As in the written work, I love Scrooge both before and after his epiphany. I was especially touched by his feelings of abandonment at being left at school for Christmas in his youth, and the deep regret he experiences over the breaking of his engagement to Fezziwig's daughter.
Tiny Tim is well cast in this movie. He has a beautiful voice and touching expressions, and is perfect in size, tiny, which is not the case in some other film versions.
Leslie Bricusse's song lyrics are every bit as wonderful as those written for Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The costuming, scenery, and props are very lavish and beautiful, adding to the richness of the story. The DVD version is perfect in this respect with good color and clarity.
The story is wonderfully staged in five acts (Introduction, Past, Present, Future, Conclusion), the first four building perfectly to the final, which is every bit as heartwarming as the conclusions of It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. It is impossible not to smile as Scrooge buys out the toy store, purchases other gifts, wipes the slate clean for his debtors, and makes charitable contributions. His transformation from miser and loan shark to a genuine Father Christmas is absolutely beautiful.
When I was growing up, we always decorated our tree on Christmas Eve; and I remember watching this movie many years in a row during that family tradition. I recommend this as a yearly family Christmastime movie, but it is also wonderful to watch at other times of the year, especially to cure a blue funk because it has the power to warm viewers all the way down to their toes.
J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2003
When I first saw this movie at about 8 years old, I fell in love with it. Christmas isn't christmas without it. My father and I often watch it at other times of year too. The review on this homepage which states that the music isn't all that good is sorely wrong. The whole movie is put together with the music to tell a tale that captivates even an 8 year old. Now at 31 I am ecstatic to know I can now get it on dvd!!!!!! Thank You Very Much!!!!!!!!!