Given yesterday’s blog post about what makes a good adaptation I thought I would write about one of the best. This 1951 version is a favorite of a lot of people, and with good reason. Alastair Sim was a character actor who, I sense, was more than capable of chewing up the scenery. But the power of his portrayal is that he doesn’t. His performance has gusto, and is in keeping with the novel. But he has such human moments (“I am too old to change” he tells the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present. He says it not a as a reproof, but as a cry.)
A lot of time is spent with the Ghost of Christmas Past, and several stories are fleshed out. We see Fan’s deathbed scene. We also see Scrooge’s emergence as a business man, including when he buys Fezziwig out. (I hate it when they do that in the stories. Takes away from the power of the Fezziwig memories). We also see when young Marley and Scrooge meet, as well as Marley’s deathbed scene. We also see Alice (this version’s Belle) in present day as a nurse/caregiver for the poor and dying. Some of the additions I like, some I don’t. But again, this version tells the story so well I just go with it.
There is an “Old Joe” scene. And we see the charwoman Mrs. Dilber again after Scrooge wakes up. There is screaming and running around, but at the end it is Sim’s humanity that moves me. The joy that he gets from being kind is lovely. And the polka with Fred’s wife…
A really great version.