In the novel, the fact that Scrooge's fragile little sister Fan died in childbirth is revealed during a conversation with the Ghost of Christmas Past. The film actually shows us the heartwrenching scene, and the effect it has on Scrooge, turning him against the newborn child, his nephew.
The Spirit shows Scrooge the scene during their visit to the past, reminding him of his sister's request for him to take care of her son, his nephew, a pledge that he has broken. His heart is torn with grief upon this realization.
Not pictured here yet, but worth mentioning, are some other scenes added to the story by the film-makers. During the trip to the past, we get to see the first meeting of Scrooge and Marley, as apprentices in Fezziwig's business. (Young Marley was played by Patrick McNee.) The sellout by Mr. Fezziwig to Mr. Jorkins, who appoints Scrooge and Marley to run the business, causes Scrooge a momentary pang of guilt and regret as he sees the regretful Fezziwig leaving, but it doesn't last long. We witness their eventual takeover of the company, as they in later years take advantage of Mr. Jorkin's indiscretion to buy out controlling shares of the company's stock.
Another significant scene that fleshes out the novel is the death of Marley. As the hourglass floats by signifying the passage of years, we are shown the death of Marley, only referred to in the novel as having taken place seven years earlier. "Seven years ago... this very night," Scrooge notes. In the flashback, Scrooge is sitting in his office when Mrs. Dilber comes in with a message that Scrooge should hurry to see his dying partner...
Mrs. Dilber: [to Bob Cratchit] I've come to say that Mister Marley ain't expected to make it through the night, and that if Mister Scrooge wishes to take his leave of him, he'd best nip along sharply, or there won't be no Mister Marley to take leave of, as we know the use of the word. He's breathing very queer - when he does breathe at all.
Bob Crachit relays the message to Scrooge...
Bob Cratchit: Mr. Scrooge?
Scrooge refuses to go during business hours, instead waiting til the office closes. When he arrives at Marley's house (which we recognise as the one Scrooge now lives in during the present day scenes), he is greeted by the housekeeper Mrs. Dilber and the undertaker, waiting outside the bedroom door.
Ebenezer: Who is that? The doctor?
The undertaker who is waiting on Marley's last breath is later seen in the pawn shop with Mrs. Dilber and the laundress. (The actor who plays this part, Ernest Thesiger, was previously best known for his role as Pretorious in "The Bride of Frankenstein.")
Scrooge goes in to visit the dying Marley, who tries to warn Scrooge that it's not too late for him to avoid the mistakes he himself made.
Ebenezer: [as Marley lies on his death
bed] Well, Jacob! They've seen to you properly, have
they? Last rites and such?
The undertaker and Mrs. Dilber enter unbidden.
Mrs. Dilber: [of Jacob Marley] Is he
As Scrooge leaves, and the undertaker begins to attend to Marley's body, Mrs. Dilber looks on in sympathy. This is more than she gives Scrooge in the future scenes after his own death, indicating that as bad as Marley was, he was not as bad as Scrooge, who has indeed worked for more years on his own chains.
Scrooge later signs Marley's death certificate with a measure of satisfaction at now being the sole owner of the company.
Another deviation is that his lost love Alice ends up never marrying, instead devoting her life to helping the sick and destitute, as we see her tending to a poor, but appreciative elderly lady, lying sick in a hospital bed. Why this change is made is a little harder to understand than the others, since the impact in the novel on Scrooge as he sees Belle happy with her family and children is more severe than in the movie.
More of the interaction between his housekeeper Mrs. Dilber is shown in the film, to great effect, than in the novel, where we only see her in Old Joe's pawn shop. Here we see Scrooge, giddy with joy, as he wishes her a Merry Christmas. She is at first alarmed at his antics, thinking him mad! This changes to happiness as she sees the transformation is real, demonstrated by a gift of money and a generous raise.
Mrs. Dilber: A guinea? For me? What for?
Scrooge is apprehensive as he visits nephew Fred's house for the Christmas party he had been invited to the day before. Although described in the novel in a single paragraph, the film goes into more detail. Here we see an amazed maid, having taken Scrooge's coat, give him encouragement through a smile and a nod as he pauses with trepidation on the threshold. Then the script adds a scene that I'm sure Dickens would have not only approved of, but probably wish he had added to the story, had he seen it. The images below chronicle the addition...
Scrooge's entrance brings the dancing and merriment to a shocked silence as he enters. Fred is surprised, then delighted to welcome his uncle to the party. But Scrooge, knowing the pain he had caused Fred's wife through his disapproval of their marriage, is afraid that she will not be happy to see him.
With great regret he expresses his sorrow over his past actions, and asks if she can forgive him for being a "pig-headed old fool, with no eyes to see with, and no ears to hear with." Her eyes show the pain he has brought, which melts into joy as she willingly accepts his apology and blesses him for the happiness he has brought to Fred.
This scene gets to me every time! It is the final element of restoration needed for the story, and the most touching moment in the film. I well up just looking at the pictures! Scrooge is warmly embraced by his niece by marriage, and his joy is complete.
The final scene of the film, played over the narrator's delivery of the concluding lines from the novel. Again, the events were not described in the novel, only intimated, but the film plays it out for a satisfactory ending. We see Scrooge, presumably on the next Christmas, contributing to the blind begger (whose dog no longer pulls his master away at Scrooge's approach), and greeting a running Tiny Tim, now cured, who drags him home with him.
Composer: Richard Addinsell
One of the major contributing aspects to the impact of the film is the memorable score by Richard Addinsell. Conjuring up (and alternating between) both fear and joy, darkness and light, grief and happiness, the music stands out as the best of any film adaptation of the story.
Click on the track titles below to listen to an MP3 file of that selection, or right-click on each and select "save as" to download to your harddrive.
Many people love the tune played several times during the movie's more emotional moments, an old folk tune called "Barbara Allen." Here is a page on another site that has the song lyrics to it. Here's another one I found recently. And site visitor Margie contributed this link: a video on YouTube of Crystal Gayle singing the lyrics!
Many have written me asking if I know the name of the catchy polka tune that plays at the end when they are dancing at Fred's house. I don't know if it was originally written by the composer or adapted from an existing tune as Barbara Allen was. If any readers have any info on this, pass it along to me and I'll post it!
Blooper Alert: Near the end of the film, just after Scrooge's transfiguration, he looks at himself in the mirror. A cameraman or filming assistant is clearly visible in the background of the reflection at this point, coming out from behind a curtain. Once it's pointed out to you, you may wonder how you didn't see it before! He's still there, peeking out from behind the curtain, in the next shot that shows Scrooge going back to the mirror.
Visitor to this site Bryan Eley contributes his Christmas memories centering around the story, and adds his insightful comments on the film;
I would like to thank you for your fantastic web site! I am as big a fan of Dickens as you are. Especially "A Christmas Carol". The Alastair Sim portrayal is also my favorite version and because of you I already pre-ordered the special edition that is available in October, thank you. I have hired an artist to create wood displays of the characters of this version to set up in my yard this year for Christmas. Scrooge, Marley, and the 3 spirits! It is not Christmas without this story, I have almost every movie version in my collection and am eagerly awaiting the new Jim Carrey version. Thank you again and keep up the great work!
I came across your website yesterday and I just had to write to you and tell you how much I enjoyed it. I am also a life long devotee of A Christmas Carol and of Mr. Dickens. In my humble opinion, it is the second greatest book ever written and was the first book that I ever read alone as a child. In fact, I still have that copy. How wonderful it was to come across your site! You have some great photos that I had never seen before! I too have fond memories of watching Alastair Sim and Albert Finney with my parents as a kid. God Bless you ... and Merry Christmas!!!
Just a quick thank you for the nice web site about Dickens "Christmas Carol". I read it fairly thoroughly for no specific reason. I was just in the mood and was googling for some info on the 1970 Bricusse musical "Scrooge", which has been my watching tradition on Christmas Eve since my children were little. I was thrilled when it came out on DVD as my VHS copy was getting quite worn. I have given all my kids copies, so now that they are grown and mostly married, they will have it in their homes. I agree with you that the Sims and Finney versions are the best of all the various versions. I did not know about the Patrick Steward audiobook version, but will add it to my Christmas list. Nicely done site. Thanks and God bless.
Thank you for creating a wonderful website-it is a great tribute to perhaps the most joyful Christmas novel ever by one of the greatest authors ever-Charles Dickens!
Btw have you heard or seen Crystal Gayle's version of Barbara Allen? It is lovely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hte2QQBbJ8
I can't wait to purchase the new DVD containing extras of the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol-thank you for the heads up! To me Mr. Sim portrayed the greatest Scrooge ever. Happy Holidays!
While doing a search today on "A Christmas Carol," I found your extraordinary website. I'm still delving through its riches, but wanted to take a moment to wish you well and thank you for taking the time to offer what is surely the definitive Scrooge site to the world.
I am myself Jewish, but I married a man brought up in the Christian faith and our family has a tradition of watching Alistair Sim's "Scrooge" every Christmas Eve. We settle in with some eggnog, and by the time Scrooge asks his nephew's wife for forgiveness, we are all invariably snuffling and the tears roll down.
While I'm sure that Christians most embrace the religious foundation of Dickens' story, I can assure you that the lessons of goodwill toward our fellows are universal. I believe Dickens felt the same when he has the Ghost of Christmas Present say: "They are Mans, said the Spirit, looking down upon them. And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it! cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!
If we could only be rid of "factious purposes," we would be keeping Christmas in our hearts 365 days of the year. And I agree with you: Sim is the quintessential Scrooge and the 1951 Minter version is the best of them all.
Thank you again,
First, congratulations on a wonderful Carol site. Best yet.
Has anyone mentioned the flaw in the otherwise almost perfect VCI DVD 2007 release?
Scenario: Marleys Ghost chapter. Scrooge is listening to the chains in the cellar. The music builds, the door slams open. Scrooge jumps up, throws his gruel and nothing. In every other release of this film, Sims screams! In this restored edition, its gone! Listen to the audio with the narrative overlay (4). This audio track comes from an earlier release and the scream is there. The second disc with the older color version is also scream intact.
This is an important dramatic moment showing Scrooges very real fear. Without the scream, its somewhat softened. Do I have a defective disc? I dont think so.
Any thoughts or feedback from other fans?
I have been infatuated with A Christmas Carol ever since I was a youngster. I can remember feigning illness so I could stay home from school when I knew that the movie was going to be televised. Back then, before the home video age, I was relegated to seeing the film only once or twice a year.
My collection, at last count, numbered over 100 different versions. Everything from the Flintstones, Jetsons, Chipmunks, and Brer Rabbit among animated versions to Sanford and Son, Bewitched, Ozzie and Harriet, and WKRP in Cincinatti and many more TV shows. I have a 1910 silent version made by Thomas Edison as well.
I also might mention that I also own around 40 audio versions too. To answer an oft asked question, Yes, I do watch and listen to them all year round! At Christmas time our home is full of Christmas Carol dolls, ornaments, books, and all types of Carol paraphernalia. Because I have just about every version that is commercially available, I have to search far and wide for local productions. Every 6 months or so I go on Google or Yahoo! And enter the search words A Christmas Carol under images search. This has resulted in my receiving tapes of many local productions as well. The Sesame Street Carol came out last year, and though it is ridiculous, I had to have it. Just this week I located and purchased a Jamaican Christmas Carol!
I believe that I have the most extensive private collection of Carol versions in the country. I have corresponded with Fred Guida who wrote a book on Carol adaptations and even received from him several versions that I did not have. He was not aware of any collections that were more comprehensive than mine.
Thank you so much for all of the time that you put forth in promoting the second greatest Christmas story ever written. And,as Tiny Tim observed,"God bless us, everyone"!
I should also add that I
am very fond of the 1970 musical "Scrooge"
starring Albert Finney. I think it is a truly excellent
film and probably the most underrated and
underappreciated of all the versions made to date."
Alastair Sim's film as viewed through the eyes of a horror movie fan: A Very Scary Christmas!
Patrick Stewart's and Alastair Sim's versions are reviewed and compared by MaryAnn Johanson
Christmas According to Dickens: A series of articles by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts, in one of which Sim's movie is examined.
Sim made such an impact that he was asked to reprise the role vocally 20 years later when Chuck Jones made his Academy Award-winning 1971 animated short. Find out more about that film here.