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A Christmas Carol

This post is about the story by Charles Dickens, not an actual song (although I did list some favorite carols the other day).

I am certain I've said this before, but I LOVE this story. How can you not love a story that begins "Marley was dead: to begin with" and then almost immediately launches into a digression about the phrase "dead as a doornail"?

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Want some more quotes? You can check out last year's quoteskimming post drawn entirely from A Christmas Carol. I like to re-read the story, and usually do so every few years. I read it last year, in fact. The year before, I listened to Patrick Stewart's performance on CD - it's not an unabridged version, being more akin to his one-man show, but it's marvelous. And I like the many movie versions of it. Here are some of my favorites:

A Muppet Christmas Carol: The Great Gonzo is the narrator, beginning with "Marley was dead, to begin with". Rizzo the Rat "assists" him, usually to humorous effect, and the role of Ebenezer Scrooge is played wonderfully well by Michael Caine. I am especially fond of the ghosts of the Marleys (they gave the role to the crotchety old guys who sat in the balcony, and assigned them the names Jacob (as in the original) and Robert - ba dum bump) and the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Scrooge! Starring the extremely talented Albert Finney, who was a rather young man at the time, not that you would know it when you see him in full Scrooge regalia. It's a musical version of A Christmas Carol with wonderful songs, including "Thank You Very Much", "I Hate People", "Father Christmas" and "I Like Life". If you haven't seen this version, you should do so at least once.

A Christmas Carol (1999) starring Patrick Stewart as Scrooge. It took me a while to become accustomed to the idea of a thin, bald Scrooge, but I managed. It has a much darker opening than some other versions, as it starts at Marley's funeral, rather than skipping to the "present" day. I love this version as well. Joel Gray's performance as an androgynous Ghost of Christmas Past is a bit trippy, but in a good way. Dominic West is Fred (the nephew) and Richard Grant is Bob Cratchit. Fans of Captain Picard Patrick Stewart won't want to miss it.

Scrooged starring Billy Murray as a modern-day network executive, Francis Xavier Cross. It's all about profits and market shares for him, and Murray sends up the networks while depicting a modern-day Scrooge character. He's brilliantly funny in the role, with great turns by Carol Kane, Bobcat Goldthwaite, and David Johansen (aka "Buster Poindexter"). The ending annoys me these days (direct speech to the "audience", which I didn't love when I first saw the movie in the theatre), but the rest is almost pure gold.

A Christmas Carol (1984) starring George C. Scott as Scrooge. Scott played crankypants characters so very well, and Scrooge was no exception. I haven't watched this version in a while, but I remember it being fairly true to the story and very well-done.

A Christmas Carol (2009) with Jim Carrey voicing the role of Scrooge in an animated version of the story that didn't bother to make anyone's eyes track well except for Scrooge's, so most of them look a bit daft. You can read more of my comments about it in this post from last year.

I like this story so well that I didn't mind "A Diva's Christmas Carol" starring Vanessa Williams on Lifetime or The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner.

I'd love to see a new live-action version of the movie, although I'm not quite sure who I'd like to see as Scrooge. And I'd love to know if you have a favorite version of this story.

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( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 23rd, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
The one Dickens I've actually read (all the way through) ;)
Dec. 23rd, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
I hope you will someday give Tale of Two Cities a go. Not because it's Oprah's pick (reason enough to avoid a book for me, usually), but because it is made of AWESOME!
Dec. 23rd, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
(My links didn't work so you get this sans links!)
I love the TV movie (1999) A Christmas Carol, mostly because Patrick Stewart could read the back of a cereal box and I'd watch, rapt.

And then there's An American Christmas Carol, starring Henry Winkler.

Edited at 2010-12-23 06:13 pm (UTC)
Dec. 23rd, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
Know who else could read me a cereal box (or phone book) and I wouldn't mind? Alan Rickman. Who would make an excellent Scrooge, come to think of it.
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Dec. 23rd, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 23rd, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Dec. 23rd, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 24th, 2010 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Dec. 24th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 24th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Dec. 24th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heatherbird - Dec. 24th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 24th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Great post. I do love that story. The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite, a staple in my house every Christmas Eve. Small Child is being introduced to it this year. I'm sure he'll love it due to his fondness for all things Muppet. I have to say I rather enjoy Mickey's Christmas Carol as well.

Two more sleeps til Christmas. =)
Dec. 23rd, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
I love A Muppet Christmas Carol with a deep and abiding love. The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat are two of the major reasons for that, actually. Gonzo gets all mysterious and then Rizzo cuts right through it. LOL!
Dec. 25th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
Gonzo wipes the window with Rizzo. "Thank you for making me a part of this."
Dec. 24th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Mickey's Christmas Carol used to give me nightmares as a child! The talking doorknocker and the fire-grave freaked little me out!
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 24th, 2010 04:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fabulousfrock - Dec. 24th, 2010 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heatherbird - Dec. 24th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 24th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heatherbird - Dec. 24th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - krysteybelle - Dec. 25th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
"Light the lamp, not the rat! Light the lamp, not the rat!"
Dec. 24th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
Re: Ha!
LOVE that part. Also the part where Gonzo climbs over the tall metal fence and Rizzo walks through it. Or vice versa. Must watch it again this weekend.
Dec. 24th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
I have love, love, loved A Christmas Carol since playing Mrs. C in a musical version in 5th grade. The Muppet version is actually my favorite film adaptation, just because I love Muppets so much, although I think George C. Scott is my favorite Scrooge.

So, The Young and the Restless actually did kind of a tribute to A Christmas Carol today. Apparently (my mom summarized for me) the patriarch on the show recently had a heart transplant, and so he was visited by three ghosts OF WOMEN HE HAD BEEN MARRIED TO AND THE GIRL WHOSE HEART HE HAD and they showed him what the future would be like if he keeps being mean. It was actually really cute because the main character kept saying things like, "I know my Dickens, and I'm tired of this foolish nonsense!"
Dec. 24th, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Also Roanoke gets a bit Christmas Carol crazy- one of the local megachurches does a huge, elaborate production of the musical Scrooge for whatever admission people can afford to pay, and there are THREE WEEKS of Dickens of a Christmas Fridays with lots of costumed folks acting out scenes from the play all over the city market, aerial ballerinas, fireworks, etc.
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 24th, 2010 04:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heatherbird - Dec. 24th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kellyrfineman - Dec. 24th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heatherbird - Dec. 24th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 24th, 2010 04:39 am (UTC)
I really truly love A Muppet Christmas Carol. And that Young and the Restless bit sounds FUNNY!
Dec. 24th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
I just reread "A Christmas Carol" a couple of weeks ago--I'd forgotten how truly great it is.

A couple of other excellent Christmas Carol movies: The excellent old Alastair Sim version. And my spouse's favorite, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. That one is going to be in his stocking tomorrow. :-)
Dec. 25th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
Christmas Spike is a little fearsome, I must say.

I've never been a big Mr. Magoo fan, but I know plenty of folks who love that movie - I'll bet spouse will be thrilled to find it!
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )

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