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Ebenezer Scrooge is an embittered old soul who gains rest and renewal after just one night's sleep - the eve of Christmas. Given the opportunity to reflect on his past, present and future collectively, the mean old miser undergoes a radical change of heart and is "awakened" on Christmas morning a changed man.
Although there have been many screen adaptations of the novel by Charles Dickens, this was the first American film version and probably the most memorable. Director Edwin Marin, a steadfast and competent director of medium budget films for MGM studios from 1934 to 1941, was given high praise for this production. MGM began the project with the intent to have Lionel Barrymore play Scrooge. Barrymore had played the miserly character on his annual Christmas radio show for many years previously and the studio hoped to take advantage of his popularity. Before production could begin, however, Barrymore was working on retakes of the film
With only six weeks left to shoot A Christmas Carol (1938), M-G-M reluctantly moved forward with production. At the urging of Barrymore himself, Reginald Owen was tapped to play Scrooge in the movie AND on Barrymore's annual radio show. Owen had begun his career onstage in London in 1905, played Broadway in 1924 and finally moved to Hollywood in the late ╘20s. Landing both roles as Ebenezer Scrooge was a huge coup for Owen, and he did not disappoint. Critics consider this to be one of the most successful roles of his career.
Husband and wife team, Gene and Kathleen Lockhart, delivered a well regarded performance as the "Cratchets" and Lionel Braham, Ann Rutherford and D'Arcy Corrigan play the Ghosts of Christmas Present, Past and Future, respectively, those characters ultimately responsible for Scrooge's transformation.
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Producer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Screenplay:Hugo Butler, based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Cinematography: Sidney Wagner
Editor: George Boemler
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: David Snell (uncredited), Franz Waxman
Cast: Reginald Owen (Ebenezer Scrooge), Gene Lockhart (Bob Cratchit), Kathleen Lockhart (Mrs. Cratchit), Terry Kilburn (Tiny Tim), Barry MacKay (Fred), Lynne Carver (Bess)
BW-70m. Close captioning.
by Mary Anne Melear