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Scrooge (1935 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Film Title Frame
Directed byHenry Edwards
Screenplay byH. Fowler Mear
Based onA Christmas Carol
1843 novella
by Charles Dickens
Produced byJulius Hagen
StarringSir Seymour Hicks
Donald Calthrop
Robert Cochran
Mary Glynne
Garry Marsh
Oscar Asche
Marie Ney
C.V. France
CinematographySydney Blythe
William Luff
Edited byRalph Kemplen
Music byW.L. Trytel
Distributed byTwickenham Film Studios
Release date
  • 26 November 1935 (1935-11-26)
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Scrooge is a 1935 British Christmas fantasy film directed by Henry Edwards and starring Seymour Hicks, Donald Calthrop and Robert Cochran. The film was released by Twickenham Film Studios and has since entered the public domain. It was the first sound film of feature length to adapt the Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol, and it was the second cinematic adaptation of the story to use sound, following a now-lost 1928 short subject adaptation of the story.[1][2] Hicks stars as Ebenezer Scrooge, the skinflint who hates Christmas and is visited by a succession of ghosts on Christmas Eve. Hicks had previously played the role of Scrooge on the stage regularly, starting in 1901, and in a 1913 British silent film version.

Critical reception to Scrooge has been generally positive over the years. Praise has focused on the film's atmosphere, which has been compared to works of German expressionism, and on the performance of Hicks in the title role. Some reviews have criticised the film for its technical limitations and for heavily abbreviating Scrooge's backstory.

The film was originally released in black-and-white. A restoration of the film was released on DVD by Image Entertainment in 2002, and a colourised version of the film was released by Legendary Films in 2018.

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It is Christmas Eve of 1843: Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly and cold-hearted money-lender, is working in his freezing counting house along with his suffering, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit. Two businessmen arrive to request a donation for the poor, but Scrooge responds that prisons and workhouses are sufficient resources to deal with poor people. Scrooge catches Bob trying to take some coal but warns him he will be out of a job if he does not go back to work. A visit from Fred, Scrooge's nephew and sole living relative, only incites further annoyance, with Scrooge refusing to dine with him and his wife, and grumbling that Christmas is "Humbug!".

That night after work, Bob goes home to celebrate the holidays with his family while Scrooge dines alone at a seedy tavern while the gentlemen and ladies of London celebrate Christmas with the Lord Mayor of London. At home, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his seven-years dead partner Jacob Marley, who wears a chain he "forged in life" from his own wicked career. He tells Scrooge he will be haunted by three spirits in order to have the chance to escape his fate.

That night, as Marley warned, Scrooge is haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who shows Scrooge how he lost his fiancée Belle due to his avarice and his harsh behaviour towards others, including a debt-ridden couple. Scrooge then sees that Belle is now married and has many children.

The next spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, shows Scrooge how poor Bob and his family are, as they have a meagre Christmas dinner of goose and pudding. The spirit warns that unless the future changes, Tiny Tim, the youngest son, who is ill, will die. Scrooge then sees how others keep Christmas before seeing Fred celebrate with his wife and friends.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge what lies in store the following year. Scrooge discovers Tiny Tim is dead, and sees the grave of a man who was robbed after his death and discussed by some businessmen, and discovers it was himself.

Scrooge returns a changed and generous person. He orders a turkey for Bob and his family, gives a large donation to the two men from the day before and dines with Fred. Scrooge raises Bob's wages and gives him the day off, telling him that he will be a godfather to Tiny Tim, who does not die, and the two attend church together. The congregation sing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing as they enter.



Scrooge was the first film to be released by Twickenham Film Distributors, Ltd., which was founded by Julius Hagen and Arthur Clavering. Hagen acted as producer for the new company while Clavering handled distribution.[3]

The title character in Scrooge was performed by Sir Seymour Hicks, who had previously portrayed the character on the stage numerous times beginning in 1901. Hicks had also portrayed the character in the 1913 silent film adaptation of A Christmas Carol.[4][5]

The 1935 film differs from all other versions of the story in one significant way – most of the tormented spirits, including that of Jacob Marley, are not actually shown onscreen, although their voices are heard. Only Christmas Present is actually seen in full figure – Christmas Past is a mere shape with no discernible facial features, Marley's Ghost is seen only briefly as a face on the door knocker, and Christmas Yet to Come is simply an outstretched pointing finger.[6]


Upon its release, Scrooge was praised as "A faithful, tender and mellow edition" of A Christmas Carol by Frank Nugent of The New York Times.[7] Although Nugent felt that the film "suffers from underlighting and occasional recording lapses", he wrote that the film "still deserves one's affectionate regard" and felt that it "carries on at a pace which preserves the Dickensian flavor without denial of modern insistence upon more rapid story development".[7] Nugent singled out the performances of Hicks and Calthrop for praise. He described Hicks as the film's "highlight" and his rendition of Ebenezer Scrooge as "altogether admirable; neither caricature nor daguerreotype".[7] Nugent felt that Calthrop's rendition of Bob Cratchit "could not be bettered", writing, "The dignity, the patience, the kindliness of the imprisoned beautifully in his performance."[7]

A 1982 television listing published by The New York Times described the film as "a forgotten and apparently excellent British version of Dickens's Christmas Carol."[8] In 1985, Bob Thomas of Associated Press called the film an "undistinguished Scrooge attempt" that had been overshadowed by the 1951 adaptation.[9] A 1987 television listing written by Bruce Bailey for The Gazette compared the film unfavourably to the 1951 adaptation, writing, "If you aren't too particular about your entertainment, notice that you can also catch the 1935 version of Scrooge".[10] That same year, a television listing written by Bill Kelley for the Sun Sentinel called Scrooge "fairly atmospheric and generally acceptable", comparing it favourably to the 1938 adaptation, which Kelley considered saccharine.[11] In 1988, The New York Times called Scrooge "very good" though described the 1951 adaptation as superior.[12]

That same year, Jeff Seiken of The Philadelphia Inquirer called the film "a holiday treat that, while satisfying enough in itself, cannot compare with the two movies that followed it."[13] He described the film as "atmospheric" and considered Hicks to be "a suitably crusty Scrooge", who is "especially good at dramatizing [the character's] metamorphosis" but criticised the screenplay's "poor judgement in its selection of scenes" to adapt, writing, "The movie wastes footage on the Lord Mayor's holiday feast, which warrants only the briefest of mentions in the book, while leaving out the bulk of the episodes from Scrooge's youth and early adulthood."[13] Seiken felt that the film's failure to more fully explore Scrooge's early life "robs the story of some of its vitality".[13]

When assessing various adaptations of A Christmas Carol, Christopher Cornell of The Gazette wrote in 1991 that "Vintage-film buffs may sing the praises of Seymour Hicks in 1935's Scrooge".[14] In 1992, Jim Sulski of the Chicago Tribune described Scrooge as "probably the least known" feature film adaptation of A Christmas Carol and wrote, "That's unfortunate, because it's very loyal to Dickens' story, and it's nicely done."[15] Sulski described the film as a "stately, moody version" of the story and appreciated Hicks in the title role.[15] That same year, Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today described Scrooge as a commentary on the "Depression-era class conflicts" of the 1930s, pointing to the film's focus on "scenes of a sumptuous holiday ball paired with the sight of beggars clutching at scraps thrown by cooks preparing the feast".[16] Wloszczyna noted that the film had little budget for special effects, but complimented the portrayal of Scrooge, writing of Hicks, "His portrayal is one of a tight-fisted terror, made believable from years playing the role on stage."[16] In 1993, Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic wrote that the best cinematic portrayal of Scrooge was by "the forgotten Sir Seymour Hicks in 1935."[17] That same year, Marc Horton of the Edmonton Journal called Scrooge the second best film adaptation of A Christmas Carol, after the 1951 adaptation. Noting that Scrooge "might disappoint those who prefer a faster pace and a more sophisticated look", he nonetheless felt that the film contains "some delightful moments".[18]

In 1996, Jim Beckerman of The Record described Scrooge as a "murky, antique-looking version of the Dickens story."[19] Although he noted that "theater scholars may be thrilled to see Sir Seymour Hicks playing the role he made famous on the stage",[20] he considered the film to be "stiff", "crudely made", and "a bit short on technical polish", criticising the use of disembodied voices to depict the ghosts.[19][20] In 1999, Gary Mullinax of The News Journal compared the film to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, writing "The murky look of London makes the film kind of creepy".[21] He considered some aspects of the film lacking though, describing the portrayal of Scrooge by Hicks as "just plain mean with few mitigating factors", criticising the omission of Fezziwig from the story, and writing that the "visits by the spirits get short shrift" in the film.[21] That same year, Tunku Varadarajan of The Wall Street Journal called Scrooge's depiction of Jacob Marley "only as an eerie, disembodied voice" his favourite cinematic rendition of the character.[22]

In 2004, Dan Craft of The Pantagraph noted that Scrooge was produced "on the cheap" but complimented the film's "authentic Victorian street feel".[4] He described the portrayal of Scrooge by Hicks as "the most repulsive Scrooge of them all, with really bad hair, a horsy profile and (we suspect) strong body odor."[4] Noting the professional background of Hicks as "a barnstormer of the British stage", he called the performance "not subtle, not toned down for the camera".[4]

In 2008, Pat Craig of the Oakland Tribune ranked Hicks as the fourth best screen portrayal of Scrooge.[23] That same year, Jay Ashley of the Times-News named Hicks as among his favourite screen portrayals of the character. He felt that Hicks and George C. Scott gave the two "most realistic" portrayals of the character on screen, writing, "Hicks is crotchety, eternally angry, pays no attention to personal hygiene, never combs his hair and doesn't leave a tip for his waiter. He is especially gruff with small children, apt to chase them with a stick. His is the most heartfelt "Bah! Humbug!" He is very good at counting his money", though he also opined that Hicks's rendition of the character was "the fastest reclaimed Scrooge".[24] In 2009, Susan King of the Los Angeles Times described Scrooge as "definitely worth checking out because Hicks was the seminal Scrooge in the early part of the 20th century in England."[5] In 2013, Dave Nordstrand of The Salinas Californian wrote, "Every year...I search the channels for the 1935 version of Scrooge", stating that none of the subsequent film adaptations of A Christmas Carol could "quite match the dramatic power of that flickering original."[25]

In 2019, Robert Keeling of Den of Geek dismissed Scrooge as little more than "a curiosity piece", calling the film "a dull and drab affair".[26] Criticising the film's decision to leave the ghosts mostly unseen, he questioned the theory that this was due to budgetary limitations, writing, "earlier silent films had managed to include ghosts to a pretty decent standard" and suggesting that the manner in which Scrooge depicted the ghosts was instead "a foolhardy artistic decision".[26] He considered the film's omissions of Fan and Fezziwig to be another artistic error and felt that the film "lacks either the darkness or joviality found in Dickens' tale."[26]

That same year, Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times called Scrooge "visually inventive and dramatically astute."[27] Although he criticised the film for its narrative omissions, he complimented the portrayal of the title character, writing, "Hicks, a monster in the early scenes, is moving in his repentance and delightful in his rebirth."[27] Lloyd also highlighted the scenes involving the Cratchit family, writing that they "have the weight and balance of Victorian art photography."[27]

Availability and versions

In 1986, Sharon Johnson of The Sunday Patriot-News described the film as "rarely seen".[28] By the 1980s, the film had entered the public domain.[11] It was released on VHS throughout the 1980s and 90s,[29][13][30][31] although it remained obscure even after these initial home media releases, as noted by Marc Horton of the Edmonton Journal, who wrote of the film in 1993, "If you want this one, phone your video store first because it's a rare version."[18] According to both Jeff Seiken of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Gary Mullinax of The News Journal, the VHS releases of the film were of poor quality.[13][21] In 2004, Dan Craft of The Pantagraph wrote that "most of the copies in circulation are cheap public domain versions struck from battered 16mm prints."[4]

A restoration of the film was released by Image Entertainment on DVD on 29 October 2002.[32][33] In 2007, VCI Entertainment released the film on DVD alongside a restoration of the 1951 film adaptation.[34][35] In addition to these releases, many low-quality DVD releases of the film have been issued by various distributors.[4] In 2018, Legend Films released a colourised version of the film on Amazon Prime Video.[36]

Two separate versions of the film can be viewed on YouTube. The full 78 minute version[37] and an edited 60 minute version that omits several scenes and features an alternative opening credit sequence.[38] In addition to black and white versions, a colour version is also available.[39]

Sequences from Scrooge are edited into the 2018 operatic film The Passion of Scrooge.[40]

See also


  1. ^ Croise, Hugh, Scrooge (Short, Drama, Fantasy), Bransby Williams, British Sound Film Productions, retrieved 20 December 2023
  2. ^ Guida, Fred (2 August 2006). A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens's Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-2840-3.
  3. ^ "Scrooge – English Promo Brochure". Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Craft, Dan (16 December 2004). "Scrooged". The Pantagraph. pp. D1.
  5. ^ a b King, Susan (9 November 2009). "Ebenezer, evergreen; Over the decades, numerous actors have inhabited the role of Dickens' memorable skinflint Scrooge". Los Angeles Times. pp. D.3.
  6. ^ Scrooge (1935). Foster on Film (23 August 2013).
  7. ^ a b c d Nugent, Frank (14 December 1935). "At the Loew Houses". The New York Times. p. 11.
  8. ^ "Television". The New York Times. 30 July 1982. pp. C25.
  9. ^ Thomas, Bob (27 November 1986). "Christmas film flops Holiday flicks often falter at box office". Associated Press, Providence Journal. pp. G-01.
  10. ^ Bailey, Bruce (19 December 1987). "Star Wars provides a change of pace for the children on Saturday morning". The Gazette. pp. T50.
  11. ^ a b Kelley, Bill (20 December 1987). "BILL KELLEY'S BEST BETS". Sun Sentinel. p. 6.
  12. ^ "Other 43 -- No Title". The New York Times. 20 November 1988. pp. TV6.
  13. ^ a b c d e Seiken, Jeff (8 December 1988). "The Turning of the Scrooges: Alistair Sim and Mr. Magoo Have Taken a Crack at Him. Even "The Fonz" Has Gotten into the Act. But What's a Person To Do With So Many Retellings for One Tiny Tale? Watch!". The Philadelphia Inquirer. pp. D.1.
  14. ^ Cornell, Christopher (14 December 1991). "Christmas on fast-forward at video store". The Gazette. pp. E10.
  15. ^ a b Sulski, Jim (15 December 1992). "A medley of 'Carols' Video offers your choice of Scrooges, even Mr. Magoo". Chicago Tribune.
  16. ^ a b Wloszczyna, Susan (15 December 1992). "'A Christmas Carol': Dickens' gift to the movies // Hollywood hasn't been stingy with Scrooge story". USA Today. pp. 06D.
  17. ^ Kauffmann, Stanley (4 January 1993). "Citizen Caine – The Muppet Christmas Carol starring Michael". The New Republic. Vol. 208, no. 1–2. p. 26.
  18. ^ a b Horton, Marc (5 December 1993). "Ebenezer has taken a beating". Edmonton Journal. pp. D1.
  19. ^ a b Beckerman, Jim (3 December 1996). "A Scrooge for Every Taste – 50 Years' Worth of Noteworthy Celluloid Skinflints". The Record. pp. y03.
  20. ^ a b Beckerman, Jim (24 December 1999). "Father Christmas With the Tale of Scrooge and a Host of Other Seasonal Stories, Charles Dickens Helped Make the Holiday What It Is Today". The Record. pp. Y01.
  21. ^ a b c Mullinax, Gary (21 November 1999). "Six Ways to Fast-Forward to 'Bah Humbug'". The News Journal. pp. H.14.
  22. ^ Varadarajan, Tunku (29 November 1999). "TV : Yet Another Take on a Seasonal Classic". The Wall Street Journal.
  23. ^ Craig, Pat (4 December 2008). "Here are 10 great Scrooges caught on DVD". Oakland Tribune.
  24. ^ Ashley, Jay (21 December 2008). "The Golden Scroogie Awards". Times-News. p. 5.
  25. ^ Nordstrand, Dave (14 December 2013). "Santa's favorite films". The Salinas Californian.
  26. ^ a b c Keeling, Robert (13 December 2019). "A Christmas Carol: The Best and Worst Adaptations". Den of Geek. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  27. ^ a b c Lloyd, Robert (23 December 2019). "28 Christmas movies and specials to watch on TV this week". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  28. ^ Johnson, Sharon (21 December 1986). "The Homecoming' comes to videotape". The Sunday Patriot-News. p. 24.
  29. ^ Johnson, Sharon (21 December 1986). "The Homecoming' comes to videotape". The Sunday Patriot-News. p. 24.
  30. ^ "Scrooges Past on Videotape". Chicago Tribune. 16 December 1988. p. 72.
  31. ^ King, Susan (20 December 1996). "Mastroianni Leaves a Memorable, Enduring Legacy". Los Angeles Times. p. 24.
  32. ^ Spielvogel, Cindy (19 August 2002). "Let is snow: Purchasing guide". Video Business. p. 25.
  33. ^ Beifuss, John (19 December 2002). "Visions of Films Past ... And Presents – Video Fancies Are Guided by Personality of Receiver". The Commercial Appeal. pp. E1.
  34. ^ Spielvogel, Cindy (13 August 2007). "A classic Scrooge". Video Business. p. 26.
  35. ^ Clements, Warren (7 December 2007). "A box set as big as the legend". The Globe and Mail. pp. R.24.
  36. ^ "What's Coming to Amazon Prime Video Canada in December 2018". Flare. 3 December 2018.
  37. ^ Scrooge (1935) Dickens Christmas Classic, retrieved 19 December 2023
  38. ^ Scrooge (1935) – Full Movie – Captioned, retrieved 19 December 2023
  39. ^ Scrooge (1935) | Henry Edwards | 4K Remastered [Full Movie], retrieved 20 December 2023
  40. ^ Andrews, Malcolm (Spring 2019). "The Passion of Scrooge, or A Christmas Carol". The Dickensian. 115 (507): 73–75.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 May 2024, at 15:26
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