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Film / Scrooge (1951)

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Alastair Sim as Scrooge.

Scrooge is a 1951 British film adaptation of the novel A Christmas Carol.

Heading the cast are Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge and Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley; both would reprise their respective roles in the 1971 animated film A Christmas Carol. Brian Desmond Hurst was the director, and the screenplay was written by Noel Langley (The Wizard of Oz). A young Patrick Macnee appears as the younger, living version of Jacob Marley.

Clive Donner, who worked as an editor on this film, directed his own version in 1984.


Scrooge provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: In this version, the Bad Future starts with the Cratchits mourning Tiny Tim's death, then moves on to the thieves selling Scrooge's belongings, then saves the men talking about Scrooge's death for last. In the book, these happen in the opposite order. This makes our realization that Scrooge is the despised, robbed dead man more gradual, instead of it being fairly obvious from the start.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • This film makes a change very common to adaptations of the story, by including a scene where Belle (here "Alice") and Scrooge fall in love.
    • Adds an extended Start of Darkness sequence depicting how Scrooge was corrupted by an unscrupulous mentor luring him from Fezziwig's good influence.
    • This film shows Marley’s death seven years earlier.
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    • Then there is the touching scene where Scrooge comes to Fred's house to accept his invitation for Christmas dinner at last, fearful that he would be rejected, only to find he needn't have doubted Fred's love.
    • This movie covers Fan's Death by Childbirth, as well as her final moments with her brother.
    • Mrs. Dilber's presence was expanded in the movie as the first witness to the changed Scrooge.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Love interest Belle becomes Alice instead.
  • Adapted Out: The Cratchits have five children instead of six: three girls and two boys instead of three of each.
  • Age Lift: Fan in the original novel is Ebenezer's younger sister. Here she is the older sibling. Also, both are in their late teens/early 20s in the scene where she comes to bring him home from boarding school, whereas in the book they're children at that point.
  • Almost Dead Guy:
    • Young Scrooge, thinking his sister has died, bitterly storms from the room, and misses her dying request to him.
    • Later, much older Scrooge has Marley delivering a warning with his last breaths, but it's over his head. Scrooge even waits until business is over to bother visiting him; his maid incredulously declares "I'll see if I can get him to hold out, I'm sure!"
  • Ascended Extra: Mrs Dilber receives more screen time; in the book she's only seen in the future pawning off Scrooge's items.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Predatory Business which buys out Fezziwig is personified by Mr. Jorkin, adapted from Mr. Jorkins, a character from David Copperfield. Jorkin serves as an Evil Mentor to Scrooge and Marley both, pairing them up in an ominous scene. He is later caught embezzling from his own banking house; Scrooge and Marley bail him out in return for 51% of the stock share, effectively a hostile takeover.
  • Comically Missing the Point: This exchange on Scrooge's staircase after he catches up with Mrs. Dilber and gives her a guinea.
    Mrs. Dilber: A guinea? For me? What for?
    Ebenezer: I'll give you a guess!
    Mrs. Dilber: [pause] To keep me mouth shut?
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Jorkin; during Scrooge's past at the Amalgamated Mercantile Society, the ledger registers a liability of 3200 pounds, 8 shillings and 10 pence (£3200, 8 / 10 d), with assets of 11 pounds, 8 shillings and 10 pence (£11, 8 / 10d), resulting in a deficit of £3189.
    Jorkin: At least the 10 pences cancel each other out.
    Rosehed: How much of this is the company's capital?
    Snedrig: All of it, Mr. Rosehed.
    Rosehed: In short, sir, you're not only a bankrupt, you're also an embezzler of the company's funds.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: The Christmas Past sequence shows this happening to Ebenezer, along with him developing his Jade-Colored Glasses.
  • Creepy Child: Ignorance and Want.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pre-reformation Scrooge is full of snark, as is the corrupt businessman Mr. Jorkin.
  • Death by Childbirth:
    • Scrooge's mother died giving birth to him, leading to a troubled relationship between him and his father.
    • Scrooge's sister Fan. Which leads to a troubled relationship between him and his nephew Fred. Much like his father's relationship with him.
  • Heel Realization: When Scrooge describes his old boss Fezziwig, he stops, noting that he wishes he could talk to his clerk, Bob Cratchit, and apologize.
  • Honorary Uncle: In the epilogue, Tiny Tim calls Scrooge "Uncle Scrooge."
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Scrooge and Marley were quite handsome in their younger days. Oddly enough when we see Alice in the present day, she still looks the same, just with slightly grayer hair.
  • Informed Attribute: Tiny Tim is supposed to be very ill, but he looks perfectly healthy barring the crutch.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Marley dies while attempting to warn Scrooge of his fate and telling him to save himself.
  • Large Ham: Marley is a big one, and Scrooge is one after his reformation.
  • Laughing Mad: When Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning and can't stop laughing out of joy, his housekeeper thinks, justifiably, that he's gone quite mad.
  • Market-Based Title: Was released as A Christmas Carol in some markets, including the US.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: Why Scrooge's father abandoned him at boarding school. This is a change from the book where Fan is expressly stated to be Scrooge's younger sister.
  • Maybe Ever After: In contrast to the novel where she has a family of her own, Alice/Belle's romantic situation isn't addressed. She's also shown in the Christmas Present sequence, where she isn't in the novel. Although it isn't explicitly stated, this does leave things open for Scrooge to reconcile with her if she isn't married.
  • Majority-Share Dictator: Scrooge and Marley obtain their wealth by offering to cover the expenses of their owner's embezzlement scandal in return for the right to buy up to 51% of the company's shares. Naturally this gives them absolute power over the day-to-day business of the company.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When he gets a better look at Fan's death, Scrooge realizes that she asked him to look after Fred. He begins to feel very contrite, as he has gone out of his way to avoid Fred.
    Scrooge: Forgive me, Fan!
  • Sarcastic Confession: Mr. Jorkin, when confronted on charges of embezzlement.
    Rosehed: In short, sir, you're not only a bankrupt, you're an embezzler of the company's funds.
    Jorkin: I also beat my wife and skewer innocent babies when in my cups.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The tune that Mr Jorkin is whistling when he offers Scrooge a job is "The Lincolnshire Poacher" - about a poacher who enjoys unlawfully entering property and trapping game there.
    • After Marley's death scene, Christmas Past calls Scrooge a "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, covetous old sinner" - exactly as Charles Dickens describes him in the novel.
  • Start of Darkness: The Christmas Past sequence explores this in more detail than the book.
  • Stepford Smiler: When Bob Cratchit comes home in the Christmas Yet To Come part, he tries to pretend that he's happy about an imagined goodbye from Tiny Tim. But he quickly collapses into his wife's arms in tears.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: The epilogue shows a fully healthy, crutch-free Tiny Tim running to greet Scrooge in the street.
  • Timeshifted Actor: George Cole as Young Ebenezer Scrooge and Patrick Macnee as Young Jacob Marley.
  • Truer to the Text: Even though this movie takes its own set of liberties that other adaptations don't, it still includes quite a bit of dialogue from the book that often tends to be left out. For example, it includes the sequence where Scrooge threatens to swallow a toothpick while talking with Marley, something very few film adaptations do.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: "What does this party cost in your mortal money?", says the Ghost of Christmas Past at Fezziwig's party. The point, of course, is to show how little money counts in the spirit life.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the original novel the Christmas Past sequence shows that Belle married someone else and had a family, which is the last we see of her. This adaptation shows her counterpart Alice in the Christmas Present, helping feed the poor on Christmas Day, but whether she had a family is unaddressed.

Alternative Title(s): A Christmas Carol 1951


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