Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Scrooge (1935)

Grumpy old man is grumpy until he's haunted and learns the true meaning of Christmas. We all know the story.

This British production is not the very old version you may be familiar with. That would be either the 1938 or 1951 larger budget productions. This is a straight retelling of the Dickens story. No songs, no ducks, and actually set in Victorian London. It also appears to be the first feature length talkie version. There is a lost 9 minute talkie version from 1928 out there someplace.

Scrooge follows the Dickens story well but because it's under 80 minutes, it is significantly compressed. Scrooges trips, particularly with the Ghost of Christmas past, are abbreviated. We see his fiancee leaving him and her once again flush with family and happiness. We see no schoolboy Scrooge, no Old Fezziwig, and little insight how he became the man he was. They did choose to include the quick scene of the Lord Mayor of London leading a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen.

Special effects being what they were, translucent floating ghosts were not in the budget. In fact, Scrooge alone, and not the audience can see Marley. Marley was voiced by Claude Rains, so once again he plays an invisible man. The most effective special effect was superimposing Scrooge's disembodied head over it's larger black shadow. Doesn't sound like much but it functioned quite well.

Scrooge was a lower budget production with sound and video quality issues. It plays more like a melodrama and I get the impression that short scenes were clipped or missing altogether. But it has heart and was well worth my time. AMRU 3.5.
"Mankind was my business!"

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