Picture from A Christmas Carol
Overall A

This 1951 adaptation of Charles Dickens' well-known story A Christmas Carol is a black and white version of the holiday classic. It stars Alastair Sim as the miserly Scrooge.

Violence B+
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A-

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol (1951) - Movie imageWhen my son asked what my favorite part of the holiday season was, I sassily replied "Vacuuming up the pine needles after we have taken down the tree." Appalled, both he and my husband pronounced me a "Scrooge." Diagnosed with an ailing Christmas spirit, it was suggested that the best cure might be spending time with the man who's name has become synonymous with a "bah humbug" attitude.

With countless adaptations of the familiar Dickens' tale available, I chose to fill my prescription with the 1951 version staring Alastair Sim. Then I gathered my children around the glowing TV to share the medicine.

A Christmas Carol (1951) - Movie image Even though it is missing all the colors (as my youngest child quickly pointed out), there is something very powerful about this traditional telling of the miserable miser who receives a very unusual Christmas present from his long deceased business partner. As Ebenezer Scrooge, Sim exudes sentiments of "you shouldn't have" when he is promised visits from three ghosts who hope to help him catch the spirit of the season. The apparitions personifying Christmas past, present and future, provide glimpses into Scrooge's neglected childhood and consequent self-centered pursuit of wealth that fashioned him into a jaded and bitter old man. While the first two specters are gentle and jolly, the third (draped in dark flowing fabric) is rather frightening-especially in black and white. After a pause of the tape and some reassurances, we continued the movie to see Sim's brilliant and witty performance as his greedy character is transformed by the joy of giving.

Judging by the story's enduring popularity, I'm not the only one who has traits in common with Mr. Scrooge, or who finds the associated commercialism and stresses of the season robbing me of its promised peace. A Christmas Carol (known as Scrooge in the UK) provides portrayals of Bob Cratchit's (Mervyn Johns) humble gratitude, Tiny Tim's (Glyn Dearman) faith and optimism, combined with a message of possible reformation for those of us who have (for the moment at least) lost sight of what matters most, making it the perfect tonic for the soul.