Monday, December 3, 2012

Seymour Hicks as Scrooge

Sir Seymour Hicks is, so far, the only actor to portray Scrooge in a live-action version onscreen twice. His first appearance was in a silent film from 1913, but is more famous for his performance in the first sound version of A Christmas Carol, titled Scrooge, from 1935.

This version finally brings in a nice jolt missing from the silent versions: Dickens' excellent dialogue. One standard for adaptations that don't move the story from its original setting in 1843 London is that they generally use most of Dickens' original dialogue, altered slightly for the film and sometimes embellished.

There are embellishments here: Scrooge actually asks Bob about his family, and near the end, mentions how he'll be a second father to Tiny Tim. The film effectively shows 1843 London, yet fails to show the difference in social class. The "melancholy tavern" Scrooge has dinner in is expanded upon, though it's not a tavern, but apparently a fine establishment, as the Queen arrives to have dinner there, making everyone sing "God Save The Queen."

One issue though is that of the four ghosts Scrooge sees, only the Ghost of Christmas Present is seen. Marley's face is seen on the knocker, but when he enters Scrooge's room, he is invisible, Marley himself clumsily saying that only Scrooge can see him. To be sure, Hicks acts well against nothing, but considering that even the silent films could portray Marley effectively, this is disappointing.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is a vague figure, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come only has his pointing finger visible.

A lot of the Ghost of Christmas Past's scenes are cut. The scene of Belle ending her relationship with Scrooge is seen, spurred by her witnessing him refusing mercy to a debtor. Then, there is the scene in which Belle's husband tells her he saw Scrooge after Marley died. Ignorance and Want are also not shown. I can understand on some levels why these were cut, but seeing the neglected boy Scrooge and the merry young Scrooge who worked for Fezziwig also help his character. I can only asume they did not want to hire more cast or build more sets than necessary (Bob Cratchit's home and Fred's home are both sets that are reused), but if that's the case, why the extended dinner scene?

While Hicks makes an effective Scrooge, what is cut from this Carol is really a disappointment.

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