One of our few holiday traditions here at Castle Blogferatu is watching A Christmas Carol. Another is that everyone gets to open one present on christmas eve. With that in mind, here’s a little gift for you readers (you both know who you are): 12 versions, ranked worst to best.
“What,” you say? “Not horror,” you say?
Now see here, old sport. 4 ghosts terrorize some mortal into changing his behavior for the better? Sounds like hell to me. The irony has always come down to a question of sincerity. Look at the Grinch whose “small heart grew three sizes that day.” That’s redemption. Scrooge? He’s just some rich old white dude who doesn’t wanna go to hell. It’s a bit self-serving, isn’t it?
12. A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Okay, technically this shouldn’t even be on the list at all because, much to the eternal disbelief and consternation of several good friends, I’ve (gasp!) never seen this. So it’s last. Sorry.
11. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
It only made sense to include the version I loathe the absolute most. I’ve never been a fan of the rat in the first place (although I will give a nod to the creepy 1928 Mickey). But yeah, Disney. Ugh. Saccharine. Maudlin. Nauseating.
10. A Christmas Carol (2009)
More Disney. More ugh. Still, if anyone can pull of a good Scrooge voice (and two of the ghosts), it’s Jim Carrey. And the uncanny valley Polar Express animation is always a little unnerving.
9. Scrooge (1970)
Supposed evidence to the contrary, I hate musicals, and I will brook no argument. That does it for the Albert Finney version.
8. Scrooged (1988)
Saw it once. All I will ever need. Not even Bill Murray could save this mess or shore up a forgettable Karen Allen. Props, however, to David Johansen and Carol Kane.
7. Scrooge (1935)
Seymour Hicks is a damn fins Scrooge. He definitely doesn’t have the recognizability problem ahead on this list. Not especially memorable.
6. A Christmas Carol (1938)
This one makes boasts the least sympathetic Bob Cratchit– a moronically upbeat, bumbling oaf. Reginald Owen ain’t a bad Scrooge, but nothing about this version stands out.
5. A Christmas Carol (1984)
Now we’re gettin’ somewheres. Mutton-chopped George C. Scott is fun to watch. The only problem is that remains unmistakably George C. Scott. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine.
4. A Christmas Carol (1999)
Patrick Stewart. Again, now we’re gettin’ somewheres. But also again, he’s irretrievably Patrick Stewart which, again, is fine, cuz he’s Patrick Stewart. I had the same problem in the David Tenannt version of Hamlet.
3. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)
As stated at #9, I will brook no argument. Yes, it’s a musical, but it’s got some nostalgia going for it. Once Thanksgiving was over, I looked forward every year to How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, and this show. Yes, at least one of the songs makes might make you cry. This one may have the most annoying Tiny Tim as well.
2. Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
This is certainly the funniest version, and I love how it skewers the story. This time, the ghosts show Blackadder the many ways his life would be better if he wasn’t kind, generous, or nice. I wanted so badly to make this #1. I just couldn’t bring myself to because, ultimately, it’s TV show, not a movie.
Before getting to the #1 spot, Here’s a handful of movies that didn’t quite make the list but are worth pointing out.
Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol
Dr. Who: A Christmas Carol
The Stingiest Man In Town (Rankin/Bass)
And #1. Scrooge (1951)
Hands down, the definitive version, the gold standard, nay the apotheosis of all possible iterations of Ebenezer Scrooge was, is, and always will be Alastair Sim. As mentioned before, George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart as Scrooge are exactly that. Enjoyable if you wanna see either of them play a character, but Alastair Sim is Scrooge. Even when you see him in something else, he’s still Scrooge. And this version has so many other delightful bits. As Bob Cratchits go, Mervyn Johns is the least annoying. You almost feel bad for him but not quite. Hermione Baddely is entertaining as Mrs. Cratchit. Other highlights include the shrieking Mrs. Dilber and the wailing Jacob Marley (you owe it to yourself to watch at least this part with subtitles). As a serious treatment of the source material, this is easily the one that sets the highest possible bar.
And to all a good night.