Saturday Movie Review – “A Christmas Carol”

We’ve got a seasonal review for today. We’re also looking at ways to make sure the Saturday reviews continue in spite of the increasing offline demands some of us are feeling.

Cast and Crew

Reginal Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge
Gene Lockhart as Bob Crachit
Kathleen Lockhart as Mrs. Crachit
Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim
Barry MacKay as Fred
Lynne Carver as Bess
Leo G. Carroll as Jacob Marley’s ghost
Ann Rutherford as the Spirit of Christmas Past
Lionel Braham as the Spirit of Christmas Present
D’Arcy Corrigan as the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come

Screenplay by Hugo Butler, based on the Charles Dickens story.
Directed by Edwin L. Marin.

Complete information is available from this IMDB

Buy from:

Past movie reviews can be found here.


It’s A Christmas Carol. If you don’t know what that’s about, go here.

High Point

While Mrs. Crachit’s line about saving the children was great, the best part has to be the scenes on the street. They ground the period and add depth to the story.

Low Point

Scrooge’s very rapid transformation. This should have been more gradual.

The Review

Is there really any originality in another adaptation of Dickens’ work? This wasn’t even the first full length adaptation. I give it 2 out of 6.

The effects were either transparency or flying, both of which were good for the time, and not horrible today. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was rushed at the end, but it keeps more of Dickens’ trademark wit than most versions. (I do prefer the print version, if only for the second paragraph about the deadest piece of ironmongery; see the link above if you haven’t read it.) I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting is well done, with subtlety when the roles demanded it. I give it 5 out of 6.

Keeping Dickens’ wit makes a bit difference. Most versions are inspiring, but this one is also very amusing. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production was limited by the available technology. Candlelit scenes were obviously spotlit, for example, but in 1938 they didn’t have access to movie resolution film that would register with the power of a candle. Unfortunately, this means that a candle may appear between Scrooge and his shadow. There’s even a moment when the candle itself casts a clear shadow. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s one of the better adaptations I’ve seen. (I haven’t seen the Alastair Sim or George C. Scott versions yet, but there are other Christmases to write reviews for.) I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol receives 29 out of 42.

One reply

  1. The Christmas Carol Network
    Dickens’ story has been filmed many, many times. Does this list include the 1970 British musical? Sheesh, Mickey Mouse and Brer Rabbit have had Christmas Carols. Henry Winkler starred in an Americanized version. Bill Murray was Scrooged. There have been silent versions. Musical versions. Fred Flintstone starred in an adaptation. Rich Little did a mind-bending version in which he played everyone, as someone else (ie Rich Little as W.C. Fields as Ebeneezer Scrooge).

    Patrick Stewart played Scrooge. TV shows have had episodes based on the tale.

    We could review nothing but this story and have enough reviews for decades’ worth of Christmas-themed Saturday reviews.

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