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A Christmas Carol

( 13 )

Overview

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...
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Overview

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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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)
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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

  • Release Date: 11/8/2005
  • UPC: 012569677159
  • Original Release: 1938
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
  • Presentation: Subtitled / B&W / Full Frame
  • Time: 1:09:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 4,186

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
Forrester Harvey Mr. Fezziwig
Halliwell Hobbes Vicar
Boyd Irwin Men in Street
June Lockhart Cratchit's Daughter
William Stack
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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Menu

Disc #1 -- A Christmas Carol
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Jackie Cooper's Christmas Party
      Judy Garland Sings "Silent Night"
      Peace on Earth
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 18, 2012

    The best!

    This is one of the best versions of A Christmas Carol. One to watch every year!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great classic movie

    I look for this one on TCM every year. There's just something so wonderfully nostalgic and old Hollywood about it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A True Classic!!!

    I've seen all the versions of this Dickens tale, and this one is by far the absolute best! It's the only one I thought worthy of adding to the family library. It is a family tradition to watch this every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The acting and stage setting are perfection. A true classic in every sense!!

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    The Best Christmas Carol Movie!

    This movie is by far the best Christmas Carol movie that was ever made. It is a tradition in our family to watch it every year at Christmas time. In my opinion and many others that I know say no other movie compares. It's a must see!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    "The best version yet"

    If you love Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, this is the best version of it to date. I won't watch any other one, it's heart warming, funny and magical all in one. You won't be dissapointed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One Of My favorite Adaptations of A Christmas carol!

    I loved the book by Charles Dickens and have seen several of the many movie adaptations and this one with Reginald Owen is one of my favorites and I thought he was a great Ebenezer Scrooge and the rest of the cast is great too! I love the black and white version. I'm from a generation that grew up watching color movies but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate and like an old black and white movie. I saw the colorised version of this movie and I didn't like how it looked. Compared to actual, real color movies I thought that the colorization of the original black and white looked unnatural and fake. The skin tones looked painted. I would highly recommend the black and white over the colorized!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2004

    The BEST 'Christmas Carol'

    This is THE best version of Charles Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol'. Reginald Owen does an outstanding job of portraying the transformation of miserly, heartless Ebenezer Scrooge into a caring human being. The film excellently captures the feel of Dicken's England. All of the supporting actors do an admirable job. The film is marvelous holiday fare and suitable for the whole family (although the spooky Ghost of Christmas Future and Jacob Marley may be to scary for young children).If you're looking to get in the Christmas spirit this is the movie for you. The original black & white version is preferred but the new colorized version may have more appeal to a generation raised on color movies. Note: Bob Cratchit (Gene Lockhart) and his wife were husband and wife in real life. June Lockhart who plays one of the Cratchit daughters went on to play the mother in the 1960's TV series 'Lost in Space'. Leo G. Carroll, who portrays the ghost of Jacob Marley, went on to play the lead character in the 1950's TV series 'Topper'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2003

    I Like This Version Better.

    I know a lot of people like the Alastair Sim version more, but this one is my classic! Reginald Owen is classic! The cinematography is great also. Definitely equal to the 1951 version.

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    Posted September 27, 2011

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    Posted December 15, 2008

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    Posted December 3, 2008

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    Posted December 21, 2009

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    Posted December 20, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews