Scrooge (1970): Review

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Scrooge, 1970 Musical, Starring Albert Finney

Rex Harrison and Richard Harris were among the actors considered for the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in this adaptation of Charles Dickens's Christmas story A Christmas Carol. But it fell to Albert Finney, a youngster at only 33, to take the role most famously played by Alastair Sim in the 1951 non-musical version. Supported by an all-star cast, he does a remarkably convincing job as the eponymous miser.

Scrooge (1970): Cast

Albert Finney is just the right age to be able to play both the young Scrooge and the old Scrooge very well, thanks to a makeup job that's effective, right down to the grimy fingernails. He's joined by Alec Guinness (Oliver Twist, Bridge on the River Kwai, Star Wars), who is marvellously camp, practically mincing across the set as Marley's Ghost. Edith Evans (The Importance of Being Earnest) is very matronly as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Kenneth More (Reach for the Sky, A Night to Remember, The 39 Steps) carries an infectious conviviality as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Several well-known British character actors pop up throughout the film, including Roy Kinnear, Anton Rodgers, Laurence Naismith and Michael Medwin.

Scrooge (1970): Music

Throughout his career as a composer and lyricist, Leslie Bricusse has written some of the best songs ever for some of the most cherished films ever, including Doctor Dolittle (1968) and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). He's also written some of the worst, and Scrooge, while mostly hummable, can be a bit hit-and-miss. On the plus side, there are the showstoppers Thank You Very Much, December the Twenty Fifth and I Like Life. On the other hand, Happiness is more than a bit cheesy, with some extraordinarily banal lyrics, such as "Happiness is a high hill. Will I find it? Yes I will. Happiness is a tall tree. Can I climb it? Wait and see." However, the good numbers outweigh the bad, and the movie starts off on the right foot, with a medley of the best tunes that really sets the mood for the rest of the film. The cartoons in the opening credits, by artist Ronald Searle, are a treat.

Scrooge (1970): Design and Cinematography

The look of the film is delightful. Most of the exterior action takes place in a maze of Victorian London streets, all built in a studio, yet not feeling a bit artificial. Colour abounds in shop windows; street lamps give off an ethereal glow. Oswald Morris, who had earlier filmed the Dickensian musical Oliver! (1968), excels just the same here as director of photography. Scrooge was clearly a big-budget picture, with sumptuously extravagant production values, including set and costume design -- no doubt in an attempt to cash in on the success of the afore-mentioned Oliver!

Scrooge (1970) on DVD

Scrooge is available on both region 1 and region 2 DVD in a beautifully preserved widescreen print. The edition lacks bonus materials, save for a few extra bits of music in the form of an overture and exit music. But whether you're new to the film or it played an essential part in your childhood Christmas, as it did for this reviewer's, the bare-bones format will hardly matter. It's a must-see Christmas movie, and certainly a worthy film among a handful of memorable adaptations of the seasonal tale. Click here to buy Scrooge (1970) on DVD.

Read More about Scrooge

What Does 'Bah, Humbug!' Mean?
Who Is the Best Scrooge?
Read A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, online

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Comments 7 comments

diogenes 6 years ago

I look forward to the yearly presentation of Scrooge on the TV in the UK. I haven't checked to see which one we will get this year; there is a new one out, I believe, so it may be that. Welcome to hubpages. You have certainly arrived with a bang! Thanks for following my humble efforts, I will return the compliment as you have something to say and a readable way of saying it...Bob


Rattigan profile image

Rattigan 6 years ago from St Catharines, Ontario Author

Thanks for the welcome.

As a kid (growing up in the UK), I could never wait to see what Scrooge films were going to be on TV. This one was always my favourite.


Leslie 5 years ago

Thanks for confirming with me that Albert Finney played both the young and the old Scrooge. Just watched it last night for the first time in years. I absolutely love this version. I wish December the 25th would be remade. This film is amazing.


Paul  5 years ago

I can't believe this is a bare bones DVD! So much opportunity wasted when you consider that Ronald Neame and Anton Rodgers were still alive at the time of the release, and so is Albert Finney, Oswald Morris, Leslie Bricusse and Suzanne Neve. What a great documentry this would've made! I'd do it myself!


Rattigan profile image

Rattigan 5 years ago from St Catharines, Ontario Author

I agree, Paul. I'd love to see some behind-the-scenes footage of this production.


Scott Preszcator 4 years ago

Guess what I have looked on every site possible to try and find a behind the scenes or bloopers on this musical movie but had no success . If anyone could find anything like what I have mentioned I't would be greatly welcomed . Thanks


scott.preszcator 2 years ago

Unfortunately there's no documentary for this film or photo's what a shame .

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