Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Carol

"A Christmas Carol" is the best known of Charles Dickens' novels and perhaps the most filmed story in the cinema (that may be incorrect). In this early MGM production of the revered tale, Reginald Owens takes the reins as the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge who as we all know will be haunted by his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, visited by ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, and make a total 180 redirection of his life. What separates this film in making it special, in addition to the wonderful Owen performance, is its comfortability with the material and opposition to extremes (which, to say, are not always unwelcome). Director Edwin L. Marin's rendition of the timeless story is neither too sentimental, nor harsh, nor too scary and tells Scrooge's story of ultimate redemption in a simple, straight forward fashion. The supporting cast is wonderful as well, and I was particularly drawn to Barry MacKay's work as Scrooge's magnanimous nephew Fred as well as Gene Lockhart's turn as the noble Bob Cratchit. Some elements of the story are changed as well which add interest, including the casting of Ann Rutherford as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and some lighter scenes with MacKay interacting with some neighborhood kids. "A Christmas Carol" is a timeless story, that always seems to garner affection. This version is no exception.