Monday, December 26, 2011

“Scrooge” is My Favorite Holiday Classic

Everyone has their must-view Holiday traditions, such as Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the Grinch or White Christmas. As much as I revere the classic Rankin/Bass studio, the animation of Chuck Jones, and the sweet vocals of Bing, there is one creation that holds a special place in my heart: Ronald Neame’s 1970 cinematic beauty, “Scrooge,” with virtuoso Albert Finney as Dickens’s notorious misanthrope.

Catchy songs, great art direction and production design, and Albert Finney’s performance as the old miser, pull on my emotional heartstrings time and again.
See the movie once and you will remember, “Thank You Very Much” by Leslie Bricusse (the same composer and songwriter who wrote songs like “Goldfinger”, “You Only Live Twice,” and Wille Wonka’s “The Candy Man”). The production design by Terry Marsh and the art direction by Bob Cartwright will transport you into environments that are simultaneously frosty and warm.

The story takes liberties, changing the Ghost of Christmas Past into an elderly woman instead of the old man/child, and adds Scrooge giving presents to Bob Cratchett’s family. If you don’t suppress a tear when Scrooge, dressed as Father Christmas, exclaims, “I almost forgot, this is for you Tiny Tim (Richard Beaumont),” presenting him with a beautiful toy carrousel that the boy dreamed about in the first act, then you need to peel a dozen Christmas onions.

With a cast including Alec Guinness (BEFORE he was Obi Wan Kenobi), Lawrence Naismith (“Diamond are Forever,” “Camelot”), Roy Kinnear (Veruca Salt’s father in “Willie Wonka,”), and English stage actress Edith Evans (check out her impressive bio on IMBD:, “Scrooge” will take you away for two hours.

For fans of Ronald Searle’s illustrations, you will find a treat in the title cards, which the great British draftsman created in pen and ink with color.

Visit a tribute to this prolific artist’s Christmas Carol at If you happen to find a vintage copy of Searle’s illustrated “A Christmas Carol” that I can afford, please give me a shout.

Take a break this holiday with “Scrooge." Don’t forget to dine off a plate of Christmas cookies while you do. In the meantime, I will continue my tradition of painting one illustration per year from the Dickens’ classic. In ten years, I may have something worth shopping around.

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