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Scrooge (1951)
Whenever I read reviews about this film they almost always contain the phrases "definitive film version" and (of Alastair's performance) "the definitive Scrooge". In an attempt to be somewhat perversely controversial, I did intend to be a little less enthusiastic about this film than I would otherwise have been. However, after numerous viewings prior to writing a synopsis, I can only reluctantly concur with those who have gone before. The support cast is very strong and the script source is no less than Charles Dickens. The crisp black and white cinematography of C. Pennington Richards leaves me in no doubt that I am a witness to events that are actually taking place in 19th century England, not a film set in 1951. Primarily, however, Alastair's performance transcends acting. He is not simply an actor playing Scrooge; he is Scrooge. How could it not be a triumph? Full synopsis

Scrooge: Are there no prisons?
Benefactor: Plenty of prisons.
Scrooge: And the Union Workhouses? Are they still in operation?
Benefactor: They are. I wish I could say they were not.
Scrooge: The Treadmill and the Poor Law, they're still in full vigor, I presume?
Benefactor: Both very busy, sir.
Scrooge: Oh! From what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.

Scrooge: I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.
1st Benefactor: Many can't go there.
2nd Benefactor : And some would rather die.
Scrooge: If they would rather die, they'd better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

Scrooge: There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!

cast list production credits

Ebenezer Scrooge

Alastair Sim


Brian Desmond Hurst
Mrs Dilber Kathleen Harrison

Production Company

Renown Pictures
Bob Cratchit Mervyn Johns   United Artists (US)
Mrs Cratchit Hermione Baddeley Producer George Minter
Jacob Marley Michael Hordern Screenplay Noel Langley
Young Scrooge George Cole Original Novel Charles Dickens
Mr. Jorkin Jack Warner Dir Photography C .M. Penn-Richards
Mr Fezziwig Roddy Hughes

Scrooge Mexican Lobby Card

Mrs Fezziwig Hattie Jacques
Young Marley Patrick MacNee
Christmas Present Francis De Wolff
Christmas Past Michael Dolan
Christmas Yet To Come C. Konarski
Alice Rona Anderson
Fan Scrooge Carol Marsh
Fred Bryan Worth

35mm, black and white, 86 mins

Interesting facts

Towards the end of the film, when Ebenezer Scrooge is almost giddy with the love of humanity (following his "reclamation" by the three spirits) he looks at himself in a small mirror on the wall of his bedroom; if we look carefully we can distinctly see the heads of the cameramen appear, disappear and re-appear in shot again. Whilst this may be an error it does have the odd affect of fitting-in with the films aesthetic structure in relation to spiritual visitations and moving backwards and forwards in time. This is quite difficult to see in a still image on a web page but is distinctly clear within the film scene itself.

There are a number of continuity errors in the film (although I would not have noticed them if they had not been pointed out to me by those who look for this kind of thing). For example, in the early scenes Scrooge is complaining about having to give Bob Cratchit Christmas day off with pay. Scrooge puts his scarf on and then Cratchit helps him on with his coat, over the scarf. In the following shot outside the office, Scrooge is seen walking with the scarf wrapped over his mouth, outside of his of coat. In the scene when Scrooge and Marley offer to buy up the company, the medium shots show Marley with his hands arrogantly inserted in his vest pockets (in the same pose as Alastair as Scrooge); however, the close-up show his hands smugly clasped on his stomach. See images above. Shame on you Michael! You'll never become a decent actor if you can't get the little things right.

In a slightly bizarre introduction to the colourized version of Scrooge (the one given away in the Sunday newspapers anyway), Patrick MacNee - of Avenger's fame - declares seemingly without a hint of irony: "There've been several versions of this film, but my favourite is George Minters. It was made in 1951 and it starred Alastair Sim. It really seems to capture the true essence of the Dickens novel". There could be a slight element of bias in this statement in the fact that he appears in the film playing the young Jacob Marley (see image to the left).