A Christmas Carol (1951)

Scrooge (original title)

Film and Plot Synopsis

In one of the first adaptations of the classic Charles Dickens’ tale, Alastair Sim plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted businessman who hates Christmas and looks down upon anyone who celebrates it. However, when the ghost of his former partner appears to him on Christmas Eve and warns him that he may share his fate of damnation unless he changes his ways, Scrooge begins a magical journey through the past, present, and future that will give the miser a new perspective on life and Christmas.

‘Scrooge’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
A Christmas Carol (1951)On Christmas Eve in 1843, Scrooge (Alastair Sim) is seen leaving the London Exchange on his way back to his office. He pauses to debate two other businessman as to whether he will be celebrating the Christmas holiday, to which Scrooge reveals that he believes it to be a humbug. Scrooge is a cold-hearted businessman with an incredibly bad temper and tendency to be a skinflint. Scrooge hates Christmas and everything that it stands for and looks down on anyone who celebrates the holiday, including his own nephew Fred (Brian Worth), his sole living relative. Scrooge rejects his nephew’s invitation to Christmas dinner and lambasts Fred for his belief in Christmas and for getting married in the first place.

Scrooge has a loyal employee by the name of Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) who works alongside Scrooge in the freezing counting house. At the close of business, Bob goes to celebrate the holiday with his family while Scrooge purchases his scant meal at a seedy pub while the citizens of London celebrate Christmas all around him. Scrooge has reluctantly given Cratchit the entire day of Christmas off from work, but has insisted that the clerk be in earlier the day after the holiday.

Later, Scrooge returns to his home, where he lives alone with minimal amenities. Scrooge encounters the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern). Marley warns Scrooge that he needs to repent and accept Christmas into his heart or he will be doomed to share his miserable fate in the afterlife. The deceased businessman informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits during the night. However, once Marley leaves, Scrooge convinces himself that he imagined the ghost.

Shortly after midnight, Scrooge is visited by the Spirit of Christmas Past (Michael Dolan). The Spirit whisks Scrooge to his past and shows the miser a younger version of himself (George Cole) that was placed at boarding school after Scrooge’s father didn’t want the boy due to his mother’s death in childbirth. A visit from Scrooge’s sister Fan (Carol Marsh) brings a sliver of light into Scrooge’s otherwise dreary existence. His sister brings the unexpected news that she is there to take him home as their father has changed.

The Spirit of Christmas Past then takes Scrooge to his first job working for Fezziwig (Roddy Hughes) where the elder Scrooge relives the first meeting between he and his eventual fiancée Alice (Rona Anderson), the one love of Scrooge’s life. Unfortunately, Scrooge is made to relive the death of Fan and his ultimate loss of Alice as Scrooge’s unbreakable focus on accumulating wealth drove a wedge between the couple. Additionally, he Spirit also shows Scrooge the death of Jacob Marley, where Scrooge’s partner tried to warn Scrooge to change his greedy ways with his dying breath. At the conclusion of their journey, Scrooge is returned to his bed chamber.

Soon after, Scrooge is visited by the Spirit of Christmas Present (Francis de Wolff). This Spirit shows Scrooge the joys and wonders of Christmas Day and how people of goodwill celebrate Christmas. The Spirit takes Scrooge to Bob Cratchit’s house, where Scrooge is surprised to find that his clerk has such a large family. Scrooge watches as the Cratchit family celebrates Christmas with a meager meal made up of goose and pudding. Scrooge takes pity on Bob’s ill son Tiny Tim (Philip Frost). The Spirit warns Scrooge that unless things change, Tiny Tim will die. The Spirit then shows Scrooge how others celebrate Christmas, including his nephew Fred and his wife (Eve Gray) and friends. Finally, Scrooge is shown his lost love Alice working in a poorhouse tending to the sick on Christmas Eve. Before leaving, the Spirit shows Scrooge two gaunt and haunting children named Ignorance and Want, who the Spirit states that all humans should beware.

Haunted by the visions, Scrooge runs from the Spirit of Christmas Present and directly into his final apparition, the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (Czeslaw Konarski), a mysterious shrouded figure. This Spirit shows Scrooge what lies in store the following year. The final Spirit shows Scrooge a group of businessmen discussing the death of an unnamed colleague. The men show no sadness or remorse towards the death. The Spirit also shows Scrooge his charwoman Mrs. Dilber (Kathleen Harrison) trading several items to a fence that Scrooge recognizes as belonging to him. The Spirit then shows the Cratchit family in mourning, as Tim has died. Finally, the Spirit takes Scrooge to the cemetery and shows him his own grave, revealing to Scrooge that he was the man who died that no one mourned. Overcome with guilt and emotion, Scrooge vows to change his ways and embrace every day as if it was Christmas.

Suddenly, Scrooge awakens in his own bedroom on Christmas Day. Thrilled to be alive and having a chance to repent, Scrooge begins to make up for the years of being miserly. He first encounters Mrs. Dilber and promises to increase her salary fivefold. He ventures out onto the streets of London and begins to spread happiness and joy to its citizens. Scrooge sends a turkey dinner to the Cratchit family home, where only Tiny Tim suspects as to who sent the lavish meal. He also attends his nephew’s annual Christmas dinner, where surprisingly he is warmly welcomed.

The next day, Scrooge plays a practical joke on Cratchit after the clerk fails to arrive at work early as promised. Scrooge pretends that he is going to fire Cratchit, but instead raises his salary and promises to help the Cratchit family. The film ends with the narrator telling the audience that Scrooge was good to his word and became a second father to Tiny Tim, who did not die. The audience sees Scrooge and Tim walking together to the sound of “Silent Night”.

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Renown Pictures released A Christmas Carol on November 28, 1951. Brian Desmond Hurst directed the film starring Alastair Sim, Jack Warner, and Kathleen Harrison.

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