A Christmas Carol
Film, video and television productions based on the novella by Charles Dickens:
Director Henry Edwards; writer H. Fowler Mear; featuring Seymour Hicks, Donald Calthrop, Oscar Asche
Director Edwin L. Marin; writ. Hugo Butler; featuring Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, Ann Rutherford, Leo G. Carroll
Also called A Christmas Carol
Director Brian Desmond Hurst; writ. Noel Langley; featuring Alastair Sim, Mervyn Johns, Michael Hordern
Director Ronald Neame Hurst; writ Leslie Bricusse; featuring Albert Finney, Edith Adams, Kenneth Moore, David Collings, Alec Guinness
Animated film: director Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.; writ. Romeo Muller; voices Walter Matthau, Tom Bosley, Theodore Bikel, Dennis Day
Director Richard Boden; writer Richard Curtis, Ben Elton; featuring George C. Scott, David Warner, Roger Rees, Edward Woodward
Director Richard Donner; writ. Mitch Glazer, Michael O'Donoghue; featuring Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Robert Mitchum
Director Clive Donner; writer Roger O. Hirson; featuring Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry, Robbie Coltrane
Yes, the balding Scrooge with the bulbous nose, left, is voiced by Walter Matthau.
A Scrooge for nostalgic Brits only
So many adaptations of Dickens's Christmas story have been made—I can count over 50—and more are probably being made as we speak. There's even one that features nothing but dogs.
And every figure in popular culture seems to offer a twist on the story: The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Flintstones'..., Mr. Magoo's....
I guess it's inevitable that they all can't be great. Probably the biggest stinker I've come across isthe 1978 made-for-TV cartoon The Stingiest Man in Town.
It's notable only for its impressive cast, starting with Walter Matthau as Scrooge's voice and Theodore Bikel as the voice of his ghostly late partner Marley.
It tells the familiar Christmas Carol story largely through the character of B.A.H. Humbug, a cheery, comical insect (humBUG, get it?), voiced by Tom Bosley. The bug is added to the story as Scrooge's unnoticed sidekick—a patent rip-off of Disney's Jiminy Cricket.
The animation is flat and clichéd. The musical numbers pretty well stop the story and, perhaps to appeal to present-day American tastes, manage to bring in both Christ's nativity and Santa Claus, which I don't recall in Dickens.
However, I must concede that a number of British TV viewers seem to love this film. The Stingiest Man in Town is actually based on a musical of the same name by Janice Torrey. It played live on television in 1956 (with Basil Rathbone as Scrooge!) and is remembered fondly by those who saw it. For a long time, it seemed no copies of the original production existed and fans were happy to get this animated version to keep the music alive.
But that's no reason to inflict this disaster on today's more sophisticated kids.