Christmas Carol

Christmas Carol

4.7 13
Director: Edwin L. Marin

Cast: Edwin L. Marin, Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll


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Edwin L. Marin's A Christmas Carol (1938), produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Gene Lockhart and Reginald Owen, has been given very respectful, if not overly ambitious treatment by Warner Home Video on DVD. The movie has been transferred (in full-screen, 1.33-to-1) about as well could be expected, and then some, with the image looking sharper andSee more details below


Edwin L. Marin's A Christmas Carol (1938), produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Gene Lockhart and Reginald Owen, has been given very respectful, if not overly ambitious treatment by Warner Home Video on DVD. The movie has been transferred (in full-screen, 1.33-to-1) about as well could be expected, and then some, with the image looking sharper and richer than it did in a showing of a new 35mm print that this reviewer saw some 25 years ago, and the sound is crisp and bright and clean as well, bringing out the profound subtleties of Franz Waxman's score. (Even the original trailer, hosted by Lionel Barrymore, looks exceptionally good, which is not always the case with materials such as that). The 70-minute movie has been given a very generous 18 chapters, The movie is supported by a trio of featurettes -- Jackie Cooper's Christmas Party and Judy Garland Sings 'Silent Night' are enjoyable pieces of studio self-promotion, though they're not in as good condition as the movie itself. The bonus feature that is in beautiful shape is the Hugh Harman-produced cartoon Peace On Earth, a cautionary anti-war story that probably would have been considered subversive if it had been made a few years later, but is no less relevant today, nearly 70 years later. These features are easy to access through a simple multi-layered menu that opens automatically on start-up.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
The critical community has generally treated this version of A Christmas Carol from MGM very harshly ever since the 1960's. That was when an overly cerebral generation of film writers came to embrace Brian Desmond Hurst's 1951 version starring Alastair Sim), with its dark psychological complexities, as the standard measure of all interpretations of the story. The MGM rendition is, to be sure, a lot lighter weight and is, in many ways, more MGM than Charles Dickens -- Hugo Butler's screenplay puts a huge amount of focus in the opening section on Bob Crachit (Gene Lockhart) and Fred (Barry Mackay), Scrooge's nephew, as well as embellishing characters and events, and notching up the melodramatic sides of the story by getting Crachit fired on Christmas Eve over a bit of whimsical snowball-throwing with a bunch of boys; and there isn't a lot of depth, psychological or otherwise, to the proceedings, other than the revelation of the basis for Scrooge's hatred of his nephew. And additionally, though Reginald Owen gives an energetic performance, he is somewhat defeated by heavy makeup (which is painfully obvious when this movie is seen in a theater). But all of that said against it, this version is of the story is the one to see for those who don't think of Christmas as an overly complex event on one's annual calendar (and maybe even for some who do) -- and that might be most of us. Owen's energy does overcome most of the problems with his interpretation, and his portrayal really comes to life when the visits by the three spirits begin. Sidney Wagner's photography is gorgeous, through and through, with the street beautifully dark as Bob Crachit leaves his place of employment, and the interiors beautifully detailed even in the less-than-opulent surroundings of the Crachit home. And Leo G. Carroll turns in a compelling performance as Marley's Ghost, that rich, sonorous voice intoning Dickens' (and Butler's) words and giving them an almost operatic impact, which fits well with the deceptively lively and complex score by Franz Waxman (which this reviewer wouldn't mind hearing in a proper, free-standing orchestral recording someday). Gene Lockhart's Bob Crachit is a charming portrayal of a man whose goodness makes him seem close to befuddlement, but who never loses sight of the love he feels for all of those around him, even in the face of the most terrible tragedies (glimpsed in the Christmas to come sequence). When, after being dismissed by Scrooge on Christmas Eve, he finds reason to laugh with those reveling around him, he is completely convincing and you just want to join in with him wishing all a merry Christmas, and the scenes with the Crachit family have special verisimilitude, as he is playing them with his wife, Kathleen Lockhart, and his daughter June Lockhart. And as a grace note, we get a delightful performance from Barry Mackay as Scrooge's nephew -- he's a charming figure, everything that his uncle is not, with a beautiful voice as well. Hurst's interpretation may please the scholars and the intelligentsia, but MGM's version -- produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and directed by Edward L. Marin -- has a simple, straightforward charm that should never be entirely overlooked in search of entertainment, and the gorgeous MGM production values, as well as a brace of fine players.

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Product Details

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Warner Home Video
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Special Features

Closed Caption; 2 festive vintage featurettes: Jackie Cooper's Christmas Party and Judy Garland Sings "Silent Night"; Classic Oscar®-nominated*; Cartoon Peace on Earth; Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature Film Only)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Reginald Owen Ebenezer Scrooge
Gene Lockhart Bob Cratchit
Leo G. Carroll Marley's Ghost
Kathleen Lockhart Mrs. Cratchit
Terry Kilburn Tiny Tim
Barry Mackay Fred
Lynne Carver Bess
Lionel Braham Spirit of Christmas Present
Ann Rutherford Spirit of Christmas Past
D'Arcy Corrigan Spirit of Christmas Future
Ronald Sinclair Young Scrooge
Billy Bevan Watch Officer
Charles Coleman Charity Canvasser
Harry Cording Waiter
Lumsden Hare Actor
Forrester Harvey Mr. Fezziwig
Halliwell Hobbes Vicar
Boyd Irwin Men in Street
June Lockhart Cratchit's Daughter
William Stack Actor

Technical Credits
Edwin L. Marin Director
George Boemler Editor
Hugo Butler Screenwriter
Jack Dawn Makeup
John S. Detlie Art Director
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Joseph L. Mankiewicz Producer
David Snell Score Composer
Irene Valles Costumes/Costume Designer
Sidney Wagner Cinematographer
Franz Waxman Score Composer
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
Charles Dickens Source Author

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- A Christmas Carol
1. Credits [1:10]
2. Knowing Mr Scrooge [3:09]
3. Keeping Christmas [4:22]
4. Picking a Man's Pocket [4:03]
5. Sacked [2:34]
6. Cratchit Christmas Cheer [2:27]
7. Hearing Things [3:29]
8. Marley's Ghost [6:10]
9. Christmas Past [3:39]
10. Showing Kindness [5:45]
11. Christmas Present [5:44]
12. Qualities of a Good Slide [2:05]
13. The Cratchits [7:36]
14. I Love Christmas [1:56]
15. Future Shadows [7:13]
16. Christmas Morning [4:25]
17. God Bless Us Everyone [2:41]
18. Cast List [:30]

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