Weekend Movie Review – “A Christmas Carol (1951)”

This weekend’s review is up a little early, due to my schedule for the rest of the weekend.

Cast and Crew Information

Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge
Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Dilber
Mervyn Johns as Bob Cratchit
Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley
George Cole as young Ebenezer
John Charlesworth as Peter Cratchit
Glyn Dearman as Tiny Tim
Michael Dolan as the Spirit of Christmas Past
Francis De Wolff as the Spirit of Christmas Present
C. Konarski as the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come

Adapted from the Charles Dickens story by Noel Langley
Directed by Brian Desmond-Hurst

Availability Information

This is released in a new DVD edition each year. The edition I watched for review is no longer available through Amazon.com, but this edition is.


It’s another adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” Doesn’t everyone know the story by now? For this very reason, I’ll do nothing to prevent discussion of spoilers in this review.

High Point

The final redemption sequence. This version probably sells this to the audience better than any other, by inching us along with glimmers of change along the way, through a variety of new scenes created for this film.

Low Point

They cut short the best part of the book, opening with the quote “MARLEY was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt
whatever about that. The register of his burial was
signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker,
and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and
Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he
chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a
door-nail,” which was the first paragraph of the original story, but omitting the second paragraph “Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my
own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about
a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to
regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery
in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors
is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands
shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You
will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that
Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

The Review

The only originality is in the pace of the redemption and in the newly inserted scenes. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects are all a matter of double exposures, and not always done well, even by 1951 standards. I give it 3 out of 6.

The story is well known, and well told, tidying up a few rough edges with minimal alteration to the source material. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting by Sim was great, easily overcoming the weak performance by Hordern in their first scene together. Sim’s work throughout, showing the gradual growth and change was also well done. With that vital piece done so well, the rest feels right quite easily. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production was fairly well done. The heavy use of double exposures meant the camera angles were somewhat restrictive, and sometimes even inconsistent within the shot. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is stronger than it is from other adaptations, due primarily to Sim’s work in the final sequence. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s one of the better adaptations, but if you’re tired of the story due to it’s very frequent adaptation, this isn’t so much better as to change your mind. (The IMDB lists 54 other versions, and that list doesn’t even count the versions done as a single episode of a TV series.) Still, I can easily see why it’s so frequently referred to as an individual’s favourite adaptation. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, A Christmas Carol (1951) receives 30 out of 42.