Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Leggo my...Christmas Carol (?!?!)

Granted, I have been a loyal Netflix member for years. Perhaps that makes me a bit biased, but I have just never been a big fan of Blockbuster, the movie store chain. I am sure they are a fine business, that's not what I am getting at.

My fiancée has a membership to Blockbuster. I think I technically still do, but its to the one in Omaha, so I haven't used it in like 4 years. We decided to rent a movie a few nights ago. We have slightly differing tastes on movies, so our track record of trying to go to the store and rent one together has ended up in our renting some complete turkeys that neither of us ended up liking. (FYI, you would need at least two Ph.D.'s in Family Systems Theory and Clinical Psychology to make heads or tales of the movie Constellation with Billy Dee Williams.)

We trotted down to the Blockbuster a few nights ago with a brilliant idea. We could rent a rendition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol since we had just put up some Advent decorations. Movie versions of the classic short story go all the way back to the silent version from 1910. The first "talkie" (and a great adaptation) was 1938.

There are several good film versions. I think the best color rendition is Patrick Stewart's version from 1999. On a more humorous vein, I do have to tip my biretta to the Muppet Christmas Carol. (Statler and Waldorf as the brothers Jacob Marley was sheer cinematic brilliance.) If you want something really satirical, the Black Adder Christmas Carol is very British and a hoot. (Scrooge starts out as a generous man and gets corrupted by the three spirits.)

A lot of people like the 1984 edition with George C. Scott as Scrooge. While technically very good, General Patton as Ebenezer Scrooge just weirded me out. I never much cared for this particular version because I thought it was rather lackluster.

My all time favorite is still the 1951 version, Scrooge, with the bugged-eyed Alastair Sim in the title role. Black and white was in its heyday, so the technical and cinematic glitches of the earlier black and white versions are not there. Nothing beats the scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come with fog being filmed in black and white. It just adds an aura of creepiness that latter color versions cannot duplicate. If for no other reason, I would recommend this edition because the scene in this version when Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning and is all giddy is simply a riot. Sim's comedic skills he honed when he did Vaudeville earlier in his career before becoming a character actor suddenly (and without warning) come into play with hysterical results. I think it is one of the funniest scenes ever filmed.

In any event, when we went to rent a Christmas Carol, any version would have done. Blockbuster did not have any version to rent other that the Muppet version (already rented out) and that weird musical version (I don't do musicals). All the versions available, you would have thought they would have had one serious version.

Ah well, I should have stayed with my instinct and just played the 1938 Orson Welles radio version.

That is really the best of them all anyway.


AKMA said...

Don't forget Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol. . . .

The Archer of the Forest said...

Oh, that is a good one. I forgot about that one...