At some point in your life, you will watch A Christmas Carol. It’s virtually impossible to avoid. We all know the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who gets visited by three ghosts and has a total personality makeover. The first time anyone heard of Scrooge was back in 1843 when Charles Dickens first published his novella. Since then versions of Scrooge have appeared on the stage, radio, cinemas and television. When it comes to this holiday tradition, there are a lot of options.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
With so many permutations of the classic tale, there needs to be a standard by which all the versions can be judged. That would be this one starring Alastair Sim. It was produced in London and expanded on many character dynamics not included in the book. That’s okay because not many people have even read the book. However, this version is all about Alastair. One look at his crotchety persona and you know you’re in for a good Scrooge.
A Christmas Carol (1999)
In this version, Patrick Stewart expands on his one-man show A Christmas Carol adaptation. Here the former starship captain is grounded in a very bleak looking London just as you would expect from the original Dickens’ era. He also doesn’t have to play all the parts but he could. You might want to check out his audio version of his one-man show as proof.
Okay, first it’s Bill Murray. You pretty much don’t have to go much further than that. For this version of A Christmas Carol, we’re far from Victorian, London and instead are knocking about in modern day New York City. Ebenezer is TV programmer Frank Cross who is making everyone work on Christmas. That is until he sees the light. Great fun.
Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
In the same year that Bill got Scrooged, Rowan Atkinson was across the pond spinning his immortal Blackadder character into Ebenezer Blackadder. Think of this as the bizarro Christmas Carol as the Blackadder starts out nice but turns into a Grinch. Acquired taste to be sure but once you acquire that taste, you’ll be glad you did.
Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
For such a dark and bleak tale, there have been dozens of kid friendly versions produced. You can find A Christmas Carol interpreted by the Muppets, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and a bunch of generic animations. However, if you’re going to go cartoon Scrooge, then you need to go Magoo Scrooge. This special first aired on NBC in 1962. In this version, we follow Mr. Magoo as he makes his way (down the wrong way) to a theatre where he is actually playing Scrooge. Then we settle in and watch Magoo play Scrooge. It’s nothing short of brilliant with a bunch of tunes thrown in for good measure.