Scrooge


1h 55m 1970
Scrooge

Brief Synopsis

A miser faces the ghosts of his past on Christmas Eve.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Musical
Fantasy
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 5 Nov 1970
Production Company
Waterbury Films
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United Kingdom
Location
England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (London, 1843).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Mono (35 mm prints)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly London misanthrope who hates Christmas, is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of Marley, his former business partner, who informs him that three apparitions will come to him that night. Shortly after Marley vanishes, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears and takes Scrooge back in time to his youth and his courtship of Isabel; the ghost criticizes him for abandoning Isabel for the pursuit of money. It then disappears and the Ghost of Christmas Present materializes and takes Scrooge to the house of Bob Cratchit, one of Scrooge's underpaid employees. Scrooge watches as the Cratchits happily prepare for their Christmas dinner, despite the fact that Bob Cratchit is miserably poor. Of the Cratchit's five children, Scrooge is particularly drawn to Cratchit's crippled son, Tiny Tim. The ghost returns Scrooge to his house, and he is then taken to Tiny Tim's grave by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The old man is even more shocked when the ghost shows Scrooge his future, to be spent chained in Hell. Upon awakening on Christmas morning, Scrooge rushes from the house determined to celebrate Christmas. He buys a fine turkey and many toys and goes to the Cratchits' home. Although they are surprised by the old man's change of heart, they welcome him into their home.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Musical
Fantasy
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 5 Nov 1970
Production Company
Waterbury Films
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United Kingdom
Location
England, United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (London, 1843).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Mono (35 mm prints)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1970

Best Costume Design

1970
Margaret Furse

Best Song

1970

Best Song Score

1971

Articles

Scrooge (1970) - Scrooge


Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol is one of the most familiar and beloved stories in the English language. The tale of a greedy old miser who barks out "Bah, humbug!" in response to holiday greetings and grumbles at giving his employee Christmas Day off continues the author's interest in the plight of the poor and the welfare of children in the time of the industrial revolution in 19th century England and celebrates generosity as the answer to misery. The story, first published in December of 1843, was an instant success, popularizing traditions such as the Christmas Tree and the singing of carols and turning the name Scrooge into a descriptive term for the uncaring and miserly. The book has never been out of print and has been the basis for film adaptations almost as long as films have been made; the first short film version was made in 1901, the most recent big screen incarnation was Robert Zemeckis' lavish 2009 version, utilizing motion capture to create a dizzying animated incarnation with Jim Carrey playing Scrooge and all three ghosts.

The 1970 Scrooge was not the first film to take the name of the story's protagonist but it was the first musical version on the big screen (following a couple of original TV musical versions) and the first in color. It is also a thoroughly British picture, from cast to crew to production. Victorian England is recreated on the biggest stage at Shepperton Studios, covered in fireman's foam and Epsom salts to simulate snow and filled with cheery faces and dancing choruses in bright, colorful winter costumes. The screenplay and original music is by Leslie Bricusse, a Tony and Oscar nominated composer, lyricist, and writer (and an Oscar winner for the song "Talk to the Animals" from Doctor Dolittle, 1967). Cinematographer Oswald Morris, a regular John Huston collaborator, had also shot such British films as Look Back in Anger (1959), The Spy Who Came in the from the Cold (1965), and Oliver! (1968), another big, bright, musical adaptation of a Dickens classic.

Director Ronald Neame was the very model of the British film professional, earning his directing stripes by working his way up through the ranks of the British film industry. He began as an assistant cameraman on Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) and shot dozens of low budget films in the thirties before teaming up with David Lean. He was cinematographer and co-screenwriter on a quartet of Noel Coward adaptations directed by Lean, beginning with In Which We Serve (1942), and producer and co-writer of Lean's two Dickens pictures, Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948). Those credentials led to the director's chair, where he helmed such films as The Horse's Mouth (1958) with Alec Guinness, the lighthearted caper Gambit (1966), and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969).

Albert Finney stars in the title role, a part he originally turned down. The offer went to Richard Harris, a screen musical veteran thanks to Camelot (1967), who dropped when production on a film dragged on, and then Rex Harrison (whose musical credentials are courtesy of My Fair Lady (1964) and Doctor Dolittle), who had to back out due to a stage commitment. Finney snatched up the role when it became available again. He was only 34 years old at the time and played the part with gray whiskers, layers of old age make-up, and a stooped, creaky manner, but he looked positively fresh as his younger, happier incarnation in the "Christmas Past" sequence, which required far less make-up. Oddly enough, Finney was actually younger than the actor who played his nephew Fred, the 46-year-old Michael Medwin.

Finney was no singer and his performances shifted between talking the lyrics and then slipping into song. "The transition wasn't apparent," insisted Neame. "His voice was pitched so that when he went into melody, it was as if it hadn't happened." Most of the songs were lip-synched to pre-recorded playback but Finney insisted in performing his final number, which begins when he wakes up after the final ghost and a nightmarish descent into hell (one of the film's few liberties with the original story). He was outfitted with an earpiece that channeled in live piano accompaniment and he performed the number in a single, unbroken take.

The ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge's old partner, is none other than Alec Guinness under a gray pallor. "I didn't want to do Scrooge but Ronnie can be very persuasive," recalled Guinness. The small but essential role called for the actor to be suspended in a harness for scenes with his character flying through the air with other translucent spirits. It turned out to be more of an ordeal than the 56-year-old actor had anticipated and he suffered a double-hernia that required surgery, which Neame only learned of later. The actor never complained on set.

The production took some liberties with the Ghost of Christmas Past, casting Edith Evans in the role and making her a refined, dignified chaperone through his past. Kenneth More played Christmas Present as a jolly figure bedecked in jewels and a big, heavy cloak. Christmas to Come was played by the film's choreographer, Paddy Stone, covered ominously in a shroud that fell back to reveal a skeleton underneath, like something out of a Hammer film (or a medical school classroom).

Scrooge received four Oscar nominations (for Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Score and the original song "Thank You Very Much"), the first adaptation to be nominated and still the only feature version so honored (the animated short film Mickey's Christmas Carol received one nomination as well), and Finney won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. In 1992, Bricusse adapted his work for a stage musical, with his former collaborator Anthony Newley in the lead role of Scrooge.

By Sean Axmaker

Sources:
Straight from the Horse's Mouth: Ronald Neame, an Autobiography, Ronald Neame and Barbara Roisnam Cooper. Scarecrow Press, 2003.
A Cut Above: 50 Film Directors Talk About Their Craft, Michael Singer. Lone Eagle, 1988.
IMDb
Scrooge (1970) - Scrooge

Scrooge (1970) - Scrooge

Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol is one of the most familiar and beloved stories in the English language. The tale of a greedy old miser who barks out "Bah, humbug!" in response to holiday greetings and grumbles at giving his employee Christmas Day off continues the author's interest in the plight of the poor and the welfare of children in the time of the industrial revolution in 19th century England and celebrates generosity as the answer to misery. The story, first published in December of 1843, was an instant success, popularizing traditions such as the Christmas Tree and the singing of carols and turning the name Scrooge into a descriptive term for the uncaring and miserly. The book has never been out of print and has been the basis for film adaptations almost as long as films have been made; the first short film version was made in 1901, the most recent big screen incarnation was Robert Zemeckis' lavish 2009 version, utilizing motion capture to create a dizzying animated incarnation with Jim Carrey playing Scrooge and all three ghosts. The 1970 Scrooge was not the first film to take the name of the story's protagonist but it was the first musical version on the big screen (following a couple of original TV musical versions) and the first in color. It is also a thoroughly British picture, from cast to crew to production. Victorian England is recreated on the biggest stage at Shepperton Studios, covered in fireman's foam and Epsom salts to simulate snow and filled with cheery faces and dancing choruses in bright, colorful winter costumes. The screenplay and original music is by Leslie Bricusse, a Tony and Oscar nominated composer, lyricist, and writer (and an Oscar winner for the song "Talk to the Animals" from Doctor Dolittle, 1967). Cinematographer Oswald Morris, a regular John Huston collaborator, had also shot such British films as Look Back in Anger (1959), The Spy Who Came in the from the Cold (1965), and Oliver! (1968), another big, bright, musical adaptation of a Dickens classic. Director Ronald Neame was the very model of the British film professional, earning his directing stripes by working his way up through the ranks of the British film industry. He began as an assistant cameraman on Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) and shot dozens of low budget films in the thirties before teaming up with David Lean. He was cinematographer and co-screenwriter on a quartet of Noel Coward adaptations directed by Lean, beginning with In Which We Serve (1942), and producer and co-writer of Lean's two Dickens pictures, Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948). Those credentials led to the director's chair, where he helmed such films as The Horse's Mouth (1958) with Alec Guinness, the lighthearted caper Gambit (1966), and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). Albert Finney stars in the title role, a part he originally turned down. The offer went to Richard Harris, a screen musical veteran thanks to Camelot (1967), who dropped when production on a film dragged on, and then Rex Harrison (whose musical credentials are courtesy of My Fair Lady (1964) and Doctor Dolittle), who had to back out due to a stage commitment. Finney snatched up the role when it became available again. He was only 34 years old at the time and played the part with gray whiskers, layers of old age make-up, and a stooped, creaky manner, but he looked positively fresh as his younger, happier incarnation in the "Christmas Past" sequence, which required far less make-up. Oddly enough, Finney was actually younger than the actor who played his nephew Fred, the 46-year-old Michael Medwin. Finney was no singer and his performances shifted between talking the lyrics and then slipping into song. "The transition wasn't apparent," insisted Neame. "His voice was pitched so that when he went into melody, it was as if it hadn't happened." Most of the songs were lip-synched to pre-recorded playback but Finney insisted in performing his final number, which begins when he wakes up after the final ghost and a nightmarish descent into hell (one of the film's few liberties with the original story). He was outfitted with an earpiece that channeled in live piano accompaniment and he performed the number in a single, unbroken take. The ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge's old partner, is none other than Alec Guinness under a gray pallor. "I didn't want to do Scrooge but Ronnie can be very persuasive," recalled Guinness. The small but essential role called for the actor to be suspended in a harness for scenes with his character flying through the air with other translucent spirits. It turned out to be more of an ordeal than the 56-year-old actor had anticipated and he suffered a double-hernia that required surgery, which Neame only learned of later. The actor never complained on set. The production took some liberties with the Ghost of Christmas Past, casting Edith Evans in the role and making her a refined, dignified chaperone through his past. Kenneth More played Christmas Present as a jolly figure bedecked in jewels and a big, heavy cloak. Christmas to Come was played by the film's choreographer, Paddy Stone, covered ominously in a shroud that fell back to reveal a skeleton underneath, like something out of a Hammer film (or a medical school classroom). Scrooge received four Oscar nominations (for Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Score and the original song "Thank You Very Much"), the first adaptation to be nominated and still the only feature version so honored (the animated short film Mickey's Christmas Carol received one nomination as well), and Finney won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. In 1992, Bricusse adapted his work for a stage musical, with his former collaborator Anthony Newley in the lead role of Scrooge. By Sean Axmaker Sources: Straight from the Horse's Mouth: Ronald Neame, an Autobiography, Ronald Neame and Barbara Roisnam Cooper. Scarecrow Press, 2003. A Cut Above: 50 Film Directors Talk About Their Craft, Michael Singer. Lone Eagle, 1988. IMDb

Scrooge


From the earliest days of the silent era up to the present, Charles Dickens's timeless story A Christmas Carol has been adapted to film, television, and stage many dozens of times. The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who learns to change his ways and value the true meaning of Christmas through a series of ghostly visitations, has been played by a number of actors throughout the world, including Reginald Owen, Kelsey Grammer, George C. Scott, and Alastair Sim, who appears in probably the best known version from 1951, seen frequently on TV during the holidays. Scrooge has also been portrayed in animation by the cartoon characters Mr. Magoo, Fred Flintstone and (to be released in 2009) the voice of Jim Carrey; opposite the Muppets by Michael Caine; and in more loosely adapted versions by Bill Murray, Cicely Tyson, and Vanessa Williams.

Albert Finney's performance in Scrooge, the 1970 film musical version of the story, is one of the most critically acclaimed, but despite a number of nominations for the film and a Golden Globe Award for Finney as Best Actor, this is less well known than other versions of the Dickens classic. Some say the film was overshadowed by the release of Oliver! (1968), the big budget musical version of another Dickens novel, Oliver Twist. Whatever the reason, Scrooge is worth another look, thanks to Finney's delightfully over-the-top work in the title role, as well as a cast that includes many of the finest British actors working at that time.

Most of the credit for this film must go to composer Leslie Bricusse, who produced it and wrote both the screenplay and the Oscar®-nominated music and lyrics. Although only the nominated song "Thank You Very Much" has had much life beyond this production, Bricusse's achievement is remarkable by virtue of his inability to write music. As he had done with the hit songs he composed with his sometime-partner Anthony Newley ("What Kind of Fool Am I?," "The Candy Man") and other composers (including theme songs from Doctor Doolittle [1967], and several James Bond movies such as Goldfinger [1964] and You Only Live Twice [1967]), Bricusse either sang or plunked out on a keyboard the melodies he composed in his head, and music supervisor Ian Fraser put them down on paper and arranged the score.

Casting proved to be one of the biggest challenges in the production. Bricusse and director Ronald Neame needed someone who could play both the old Scrooge and, in flashbacks, his younger self. Bricusse wanted Finney to play the part from the start, but the actor initially turned it down. Richard Harris then accepted the role but had to back out when the picture he was filming in Israel, Bloomfield (1971), ran into trouble and he had to step in as director to complete it. With less than a month left before principal photography was to begin on Scrooge, there was still no lead. In December 1969, Rex Harrison finally signed on after an involved negotiation to release him from the run of a play he was doing in London. Around this time, Finney's business partner, Michael Medwin, was cast to play Scrooge's nephew Fred. Through him, Finney got a glimpse of the new script and decided he really wanted the part after all. Bricusse and Neame were eager to get their first choice, of course, and so behaving "rather badly," as Neame later put it, they told Harrison they were not able to come up with the money to buy him out of his stage contract.

Another actor who initially turned down the role, Alec Guinness, was finally pressured by Neame, who had directed him in three previous pictures, to take on the part of Marley's Ghost. Guinness really didn't want to do it. "I thought it was a rotten part," he later said. "I accepted since it was only going to be a very short bit of work and I had nothing in particular to do at the time." Guinness likely regretted the decision. He had to be fitted into an uncomfortable harness so he could fly, which gave him a double hernia. However, he never complained about it to anyone, even though he had to go through painful surgery and recuperation after completing his role in Scrooge.

Production designer Terence Marsh recreated an impressive semi-replica of Victorian London on a sound stage at Shepperton Studio in England, the largest in use at the time, complete with sloping streets and alleys, houses and shops, railings, and snow created by firefighting foam and Epsom salts. For his efforts, he received nominations from both the U.S. and British film academies. Scrooge also received an Oscar® nomination for costume design and Golden Globe nods for Best Picture, Score, Song, and Screenplay.

Veteran British actors in the cast also include the 82-year-old Oscar® winner Dame Edith Evans, Kenneth More (best known in the U.S. for his starring role in the most faithful version of the Titanic disaster, A Night to Remember [1958]), and Laurence Naismith, who played Merlin in the film musical Camelot (1967).

Director: Ronald Neame
Producer: Leslie Bricusse, Robert H. Solo
Screenplay: Leslie Bricusse, based on the story "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Cinematography: Oswald Morris
Editing: Peter Weatherley
Art Direction: Robert Cartwright
Original Music: Leslie Bricusse
Cast: Albert Finney (Ebenezer Scrooge), Alec Guinness (Marley), Edith Evans (Christmas Past), Kenneth More (Christmas Present), Laurence Naismith (Mr. Fezziwig).
C-113m.

by Rob Nixon

Scrooge

From the earliest days of the silent era up to the present, Charles Dickens's timeless story A Christmas Carol has been adapted to film, television, and stage many dozens of times. The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who learns to change his ways and value the true meaning of Christmas through a series of ghostly visitations, has been played by a number of actors throughout the world, including Reginald Owen, Kelsey Grammer, George C. Scott, and Alastair Sim, who appears in probably the best known version from 1951, seen frequently on TV during the holidays. Scrooge has also been portrayed in animation by the cartoon characters Mr. Magoo, Fred Flintstone and (to be released in 2009) the voice of Jim Carrey; opposite the Muppets by Michael Caine; and in more loosely adapted versions by Bill Murray, Cicely Tyson, and Vanessa Williams. Albert Finney's performance in Scrooge, the 1970 film musical version of the story, is one of the most critically acclaimed, but despite a number of nominations for the film and a Golden Globe Award for Finney as Best Actor, this is less well known than other versions of the Dickens classic. Some say the film was overshadowed by the release of Oliver! (1968), the big budget musical version of another Dickens novel, Oliver Twist. Whatever the reason, Scrooge is worth another look, thanks to Finney's delightfully over-the-top work in the title role, as well as a cast that includes many of the finest British actors working at that time. Most of the credit for this film must go to composer Leslie Bricusse, who produced it and wrote both the screenplay and the Oscar®-nominated music and lyrics. Although only the nominated song "Thank You Very Much" has had much life beyond this production, Bricusse's achievement is remarkable by virtue of his inability to write music. As he had done with the hit songs he composed with his sometime-partner Anthony Newley ("What Kind of Fool Am I?," "The Candy Man") and other composers (including theme songs from Doctor Doolittle [1967], and several James Bond movies such as Goldfinger [1964] and You Only Live Twice [1967]), Bricusse either sang or plunked out on a keyboard the melodies he composed in his head, and music supervisor Ian Fraser put them down on paper and arranged the score. Casting proved to be one of the biggest challenges in the production. Bricusse and director Ronald Neame needed someone who could play both the old Scrooge and, in flashbacks, his younger self. Bricusse wanted Finney to play the part from the start, but the actor initially turned it down. Richard Harris then accepted the role but had to back out when the picture he was filming in Israel, Bloomfield (1971), ran into trouble and he had to step in as director to complete it. With less than a month left before principal photography was to begin on Scrooge, there was still no lead. In December 1969, Rex Harrison finally signed on after an involved negotiation to release him from the run of a play he was doing in London. Around this time, Finney's business partner, Michael Medwin, was cast to play Scrooge's nephew Fred. Through him, Finney got a glimpse of the new script and decided he really wanted the part after all. Bricusse and Neame were eager to get their first choice, of course, and so behaving "rather badly," as Neame later put it, they told Harrison they were not able to come up with the money to buy him out of his stage contract. Another actor who initially turned down the role, Alec Guinness, was finally pressured by Neame, who had directed him in three previous pictures, to take on the part of Marley's Ghost. Guinness really didn't want to do it. "I thought it was a rotten part," he later said. "I accepted since it was only going to be a very short bit of work and I had nothing in particular to do at the time." Guinness likely regretted the decision. He had to be fitted into an uncomfortable harness so he could fly, which gave him a double hernia. However, he never complained about it to anyone, even though he had to go through painful surgery and recuperation after completing his role in Scrooge. Production designer Terence Marsh recreated an impressive semi-replica of Victorian London on a sound stage at Shepperton Studio in England, the largest in use at the time, complete with sloping streets and alleys, houses and shops, railings, and snow created by firefighting foam and Epsom salts. For his efforts, he received nominations from both the U.S. and British film academies. Scrooge also received an Oscar® nomination for costume design and Golden Globe nods for Best Picture, Score, Song, and Screenplay. Veteran British actors in the cast also include the 82-year-old Oscar® winner Dame Edith Evans, Kenneth More (best known in the U.S. for his starring role in the most faithful version of the Titanic disaster, A Night to Remember [1958]), and Laurence Naismith, who played Merlin in the film musical Camelot (1967). Director: Ronald Neame Producer: Leslie Bricusse, Robert H. Solo Screenplay: Leslie Bricusse, based on the story "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens Cinematography: Oswald Morris Editing: Peter Weatherley Art Direction: Robert Cartwright Original Music: Leslie Bricusse Cast: Albert Finney (Ebenezer Scrooge), Alec Guinness (Marley), Edith Evans (Christmas Past), Kenneth More (Christmas Present), Laurence Naismith (Mr. Fezziwig). C-113m. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

I will start anew/I will make amends/and I will make quite certain/that the story ends/on a note of hope/on a strong amen/and I'll thank the world/and remember when/I was able to begin again!
- Ebenezer Scrooge
We are at the home of one Robert Cratchet. You may look through the window, it will cost you nothing, which I'm sure is good news for you.
- the Ghost of Christmas Present
Will they be able to see me?
- Ebeneezer Scrooge
No, which I am sure is good news for them.
- the Ghost of Christmas Present
Hello, Ebeneezer. I've been waiting here for you... No one else wanted to come.
- the Ghost of Jacob Marley

Trivia

'Richard Harris' rejected the role of Scrooge. 'Rex Harrison' agreed to play the part, but had to back out due to a commitment to a difficult play. (Harrison was also having an affair with Harris' then-wife, who he would later marry.) Albert Finney, who had been offered the role before Harrison but had initially rejected it, reconsidered once he read the script and asked for the role. (He was a business associate of Michael Medwin, the co-writer who played his nephew in the film.)

Notes

Opened in London in December 1970; running time: 118 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States November 5, 1970

Released in United States October 24, 1970

Released in United States on Video September 14, 1989

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970

Re-released in United States on Video September 21, 1994

Based on the Charles Dickens novel "A Christmas Carol" (London, 1843).

Formerly distributed by CBS/Fox Video and Playhouse Video.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970

Released in United States on Video September 14, 1989

Re-released in United States on Video September 21, 1994

Released in United States October 24, 1970 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States November 5, 1970