Scrooge 13 and 14: Basil Rathbone in 2 Films

fredric march Stingiest Man DVD Front Cover










Time to talk about 2 more obscure versions of Christmas Carol that are honestly not great but they have their appeal.

It’s interesting I would review both of these films tonight because they were both made for TV musicals with the Stingiest Man in Town filmed live and tonight is a continuation of that tradition with Peter Pan Live.  Some things have improved in 50+ years.  Other things are basically the same.

They were only made 2 years apart so let’s take a look.

1954 A Christmas Carol

Scrooge- Fredric March is our Scrooge and they took the description seriously down to the pointed nose, which doesn’t look great but he is fine as Scrooge.

fredric march 2Differences-

This version is only an hour and the songs take up a lot of the time so we don’t get some iconic scenes like door knocker with Marley (in fact Scrooge seems to live in some kind of apartment).

We also miss on Scrooge as a boy and go right to Fezziwig.  This seems to be the popular choice for most abbreviated.

The other big difference is Past is played by the same woman who is Belle and it is acknowledged by Scrooge they are the same.

And then Present is played by nephew Fred.

fredric fred

Strengths- The score is one of the best by Bernard Hermann of Psycho fame.  It is not overpowering but subtle using chanting and some of the best carolers in any version I’ve seen.  The original songs aren’t anything to write home about but the score is great.

Another interesting touch is that Scrooge can hear the music and that is often scarier to him than any image.  He see’s Basil Rathbone as Marley and is mildly scared but then after he leaves the music remains and Scrooge can barely get off the floor.  I thought that was interesting.

frederic marley

Marley also shows Scrooge the ledger from their counting house and it terrifies him.  When he leaves the ledger remains so he cannot deny what happened.

Weaknesses-  The original songs are very generic like one between Belle and Scrooge ‘What Shall I Give My Love at Christmas’.  The singing is good and like I said the choral music by the Roger Wagner Chorale is fabulous, so it’s a mixed bag.

March is good but it is a little distracting that he is missing a tooth in his top teeth.  It looked strange and it is a ‘stay away and let me do my business version of Scrooge’.  The religious conversion elements are minimal.


Stingiest Man in Town

stingiest man2

This version is very similar to the 1954 version and has Basil Rathbone this time as Scrooge himself instead of Marley.

Scrooge- He is fine as Scrooge . It is again the ‘keep to my own business’ workaholic version of Scrooge and little is made of the religious loneliness.

It is a little longer than the 54 version but the music is similar although the score is not as strong.  It’s kind of neat because they included the old title cards from the TV production and the Alcoa Aluminum ads, which are fun to see.

This version was also filmed live which is interesting and we get a wave from the cast when they are finished.  stingiest man cover

Considering they are a play the production qualities aren’t too bad.  The 4 Lads provide narration in kind of a barbershop style.

Strengths-   The cast is all good with good singing voices throughout.  The dance sequences feel a bit out of place but they are well staged. In the final cemetery scene Scrooge even argues with a figure dressed like the devil, which was a new take on it.stingiestman01

The sets are also pretty good for a live TV filming in the 50s.

Weaknesses- Oddly Santa Claus is a big element of this version.  Tiny Tim is worried Santa isn’t real and Martha sings him a song called “I Believe in Santa Claus”  It felt out of place for the story.

At the end Scrooge kind of becomes Santa Claus bringing gifts that are perfect for each of the Cratchit’s.

Tiny Tim has a beautiful boy soprano voice and his song One Little Boy is a nice song.

They aren’t ‘good’ movies but they aren’t rip your hair out awful either.  I’m glad I saw them.

My laptop wouldn’t play either DVDs so I don’t have a ton of photos but hopefully that gives you a feel for them.

fredric march3


Scrooge Month Introduction!

scroogesI am excited to announce to all of you my next project.  Consider it my Christmas gift to all of you wonderful readers.  I have always loved Charles Dicken’s Christmas Carol.  I see it at our local theater, Hale Center Theater Orem, every year and watch as many film versions as I can.  This year I figured let’s hunt down some more unusual one’s, as well as the favorites and blog about it.  This should cover everything from silent movies to animation to Muppets.  I’m really excited!!

I won’t go through the basic plot for each review because they are all basically the same, but I will note different choices in each version, talk about the leads and each strength and weakness.


If you live under a rock and don’t know the story of A Christmas Carol it is about a Victorian banker named Ebeneezer Scrooge who has allowed his heart to grow hard over a fear of poverty.  Dickens father was sent to debtor’s prison and it was a great fear of his and all of the Victorian era.  You can get a real sense of this gloom in his novel Little Dorrit (if you like Christmas Carol I highly recommend reading it).  Scrooge has allowed himself to turn fear into coldness towards his fellow humans.  This is demonstrated through his hatred and disgust of Christmas.  He has a beleaguered clerk Bob Cratchit who remains positive despite everything.  Bob has a son named Tiny Tim who is on crutches and in failing health.

Scrooge also has a nephew of a sister who died in childbirth.  Seeing his cheerful nephew is painful for Scrooge because of his sister’s memory.  It is another event that has made him bitter and cold.  One Christmas Eve Scrooge gets a visit from his departed partner Jacob Marley.  Jacob was selfish and cold like Scrooge but he feels sorry for his friend and arranges a way for him to be rescued from purgatory.  Scrooge will have to be visited by 3 spirits- the ghost of Christmas past, present and future.

Through seeing his past and what made him bitter, the present and what he should be grateful for, and the future that is to be dreaded, Scrooge is humbled and decides to change and embrace Christmas and joy in life.

scrooge and marley

Honestly I’ve yet to see a version of this story that I haven’t liked on some level.  It just moves me (yes even Smurfs and Tori Spelling…).  I love the story because it is about seemingly lost causes and the fact there aren’t any. Everyone has potential for redemption and hope.

I personally see that redemption through Jesus and His great gift at Christmas but even if you are not Christian the message of hope in Christmas Carol is something to share and never forget.

So consider this my gift to all of you and my attempt to spread some hope during the holidays!

Bah Humbug!! 🙂

I am not sure what order I am going to do the posts or how I will group them but here are the films I plan on taking a look at over the next month. It will probably depend on how soon I am able to get a hold of different versions.

I’d love to hear your favorites!

christmas carol