SCROOGE (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951)

Even better actorsm perhaps, have played Ebenezer Scrooge, Albert Finney certainly among them, but Alastair Sim is the best Scrooge there ever was or likely ever will be. Sim’s astonishing performance manages to be both mercurial and fluent, and it delightfully employs that sourly downturned mouth of his with its protruding lower lip. Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, the film is dreamy, soulful and incredibly moving, the black-and-white cinematography by Cyril Pennington-Richards transporting. In the States Scrooge goes by the title of the 1843 Dickens novella on which it is based, A Christmas Carol.
     There’s real piteous anguish, followed by liberating joy, as Ebenezer goes about his gradual transformation from miser to good Christian under sequential tutelage the night before Christmas by former cutthroat business partner Jacob Marley’s ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the eerily silent Ghost of Christmas Future. Hurst, working from a script by Noel Langley (who helped pen the 1939 The Wizard of Oz), strikes two delicate balances: between the psychological and the metaphysical, between Ebenezer’s own conscience and the miracle of Jesus’s intervention on our behalf; and between the enormity of Ebenezer’s pain and the relief and release that follow. Nowhere else are such feelings given to the full but these balances struck as perfectly as here. Hurst does justice to one of the great redemption stories.
     The Victorian politics do not coincide with mine, any more than the Christianity represents my particular set of beliefs; if one applies sense, it is scarcely much a solution that Scrooge becomes a more humane boss when the socioeconomic system that had inspired his meanness remains in place. But we give all that a rest, submitting eagerly, when we visit however many times this brilliant entertainment.

B(U)Y THE BOOK

MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.

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