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
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