Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

A Christmas Carol (1951) (aka Scrooge, UK)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

A Christmas Carol (1951) (aka Scrooge, UK)

In this black and white classic from director Brian Desmond Hurst - it has been considered the most definitive and faithful film ever made about miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. It was 17 minutes longer, at 86 minutes than the 1938 version (at 69 minutes), with more depth and some crude special effects. [Note: Director Walter R. Booth's British short, titled Scrooge, or, Marley's Ghost (1901, UK), was the first known film adaptation of the tale, although only half of the short survived.] Scrooge (or A Christmas Carol) was based on writer Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (aka A Christmas Carol). The mean, white-haired Ebenezer Scrooge, known for his trademark phrase: "Bah, humbug!" was authentically portrayed by Alastair Sim.

  • the film opened at the London business exchange in the mid-1800s on Christmas Eve, where Scrooge demonstrated his obvious distaste for the festive season and holiday: "Christmas is in the habit of keeping men from doing business.... Christmas, Sir, is a humbug, good day"
  • on the outside steps, he rebuffed a debtor who asked for more time to repay a loan of twenty pounds. The wealthy Scrooge wouldn't give to charitable causes for the poor, destitute, unfortunate and needy ("l wish to be left alone"). He also refused a Christmas dinner invitation from his good-natured, cheerful nephew Fred (Brian Worth)
  • Scrooge begrudgingly allowed his own underpaid, humble clerk Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) with lame son Tiny Tim (Glyn Dearman) to have Christmas day off for a family celebration, although he called it an "inconvenience." When reminded it was only once-a-year, Scrooge replied: "That's a poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every 25th of December." As he departed and was wished a "Merry Christmas," Scrooge scoffed: "A Merry Christmas, Sir!? You, a clerk on fifteen shillings a week, with a wife and a family, talking about a Merry Christmas. Ha ha. I'll retire to bedlam"
  • on his way home after work on Christmas Eve, Scrooge stopped in for a meal at an inn, and when he asked the waiter for more bread, he changed his mind when the waiter claimed it would be an "extra" charge
  • after he returned alone to his empty mansion (with his door knocker reflecting the face of a ghost), Scrooge climbed stairs and heard ringing from unmoving bells. Suddenly, his door swung open to a ghost - his long-deceased former partner Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern) from seven years before who was dragging heavy chains. Marley stated: "You don't believe in me...Man of the worldly mind, do you believe in me or not?" After Scrooge cowered and admitted his belief in the suffering and tormented Marley, his former partner explained his wandering spirit: "lt is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men. lf it goes not forth in life it is condemned to do so after death. lt is doomed to wander through the world!...And witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on Earth and turned to happiness...l wear the chain l forged in life. l made it link by link and yard by yard. l girded it on of my own free will and of my own free will. l wore it....You do not know the weight and length of strong chain you bear yourself. lt was full, as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eve's ago and you have labored on it since. lt is a ponderous chain.....Now I am doomed to wander without rest or peace. Incessant torture and remorse"
  • the shackled Marley warned that Scrooge still had a chance of escaping the same fate, with the visits of three ghosts that would begin at 1 am: ("Hear me! My time is nearly gone. l come tonight to warn you that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate....You will be visited by three spirits...Without their visits you can not hope to shun the path l tread. Expect the first when the bell tolls One").
  • Marley directed Scrooge to the window, where he saw other helpless, hopeless souls and phantoms like Marley (seen with a double-exposure special effect)
  • a procession of three ghosts or spirits appeared (also filmed with double-exposure) who all advised the embittered Scrooge to repent of his greedy ways, and redeem himself. Each of the ghosts showed Scrooge the parts of his life that he had forgotten or ignored, and urged him to discover and adopt the true spirit of Christmas:
    • the Ghost of Christmas Past (Michael J. Dolan), a white Grecian-robed, long gray-haired gentleman
    • the Spirit of Christmas Present (Francis de Wolff)
    • the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (C. Konarski), a black-garbed, horrific figure
  • with the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ebenezer Scrooge revisited his idealistic youth, when he saw himself (George Cole) in an earlier time - he was at school (and was the only student not going home to his stern father for Christmas); he watched as he met with his beloved sister Fan Scrooge (Carol Marsh), but later was heartbroken when he saw her die while giving birth to nephew Fred - someone Scrooge would resent, although Fan had graciously asked him to care for her orphaned boy - although he didn't hear her. [Note: Scrooge was likewise resented by his father when his mother gave birth to him and died.]
  • the segment entered a party at the Fezziwig household, where the younger Scrooge proposed to his fiancee Alice (Rona Anderson), but soon, their future marriage was not meant to be due to drastic changes in Scrooge's personality. Scrooge was apprenticed to a benevolent employer Mr. Fezziwig (Roddy Hughes), but he was lured (and corrupted) by a rival - mentor Mr. Jorkin (Jack Warner) to leave his employment. As Scrooge prospered, he manifested the first signs of tyrannical greed after Fezziwig was subsequently run out of business, and a new company emerged - the Amalgamated Mercantile Society
  • Alice returned her engagement ring to Scrooge, telling him that his pursuit of wealth and world-view had completely changed him: "Another idol has replaced me in your heart - a golden idol...You fear the world too much...Our promise is an old one. lt was made when we were both poor and content to be so....lf you were free today, would you choose a direless girl with, with neither wealth nor social standing? You, who now weigh everything by gain?! l bring you nothing but repentance and regret." She ended the break-up with: "May you be happy in the life you have chosen."
  • when the company faced scandal (Jorkin was accused of both bankruptcy and embezzlement), Ebenezer and his long-time colleague - accountant/clerk, John Marley (Patrick MacNee), who were "not facing prosecution for the capital offense," offered to take over 51% of the company's shares (majority control), and in return, save the company by keeping the scandal quiet
  • later, Scrooge offered no pity when notified that his co-partner Marley was dying. He remained at work until 7 pm and only then, after-hours on Christmas Eve, visited the dying Marley. He ignored Marley's last words of advice on his deathbed ("There's still time...We were wrong") - that Scrooge should save himself ("Save yourself"). Scrooge was reprimanded by the Ghost (in voice-over) for his lack of caring, and for taking over Marley's house and property: "Jacob Marley worked at your side for eighteen years. He was the only friend you ever had. But what did you feel when you signed the register at his burial and took his money, his house, and his few lean sticks of furniture? Did you feel a little pity for him? Look at your face, Ebenezer. A face of a wrenching, grasping, scraping, covetous old sinner"

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Michael J. Dolan)

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Francis de Wolff)

The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (or the Future) (C. Konarski)
Scrooge's Three Visitations
  • during the second visitation by the Spirit of Christmas Present, Scrooge was told to observe the hearts of people with good will: "Mortal! We spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole 365. So is it true of the child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men's hearts only one day of the year, but in all the days of the year. You have chosen not to seek him in your heart. Therefore, you shall come with me and seek him in the hearts of men of good will"
  • Scrooge looked in on the happy Christmas celebrations of lowly miners, then his nephew Fred and the Cratchits. He heard Mrs. Cratchit chastise him: "Could only be on Christmas Day that l would drink the health of such a hard, stingy, unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge." He also saw that his spurned ex-fiancee Alice was now a nurse charitably caring for the sick and poor. The Ghost of Christmas Present also presented Scrooge with a grim view of a young boy and girl at his feet, representing Ignorance and Want in the world: ("They cling to me for protection from their fetters. This boy is lgnorance. This girl is Want")
  • during the final visitation by the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (or the Future), Scrooge was most fearful of this last dark-shrouded spectre (looking like the Grim Reaper), although he still claimed: "Even in my fear, I must tell you I am too old! I cannot change! It's not that I'm inpenitent, it's just...Wouldn't it be better if I just went home to bed?"
  • Scrooge was shown the Cratchit house, where Tiny Tim had died and was deeply mourned and lamented, especially by his father Bob Cratchit. By contrast, Scrooge watched three poor characters pawning off some of Scrooge's possessions the day after his death, with dealer Old Joe (Miles Malleson): (1) an undertaker (Ernest Thesiger) - who received 8 shillings for Scrooge's "Watch, fob, seal, pencil case, sleeve buttons, broach"; (2) a laundress (Louise Hampton) - who received 17 shillings and sixpence for Scrooge's "two sheets, two towels, shirt, teaspoons, two silver, sugar tongs, boots assorted, four", and (3) a char lady - his maid Mrs. Dilber (Kathleen Harrison) had removed the bedcurtains and blankets, and taken Scrooge's expensive burial shirt and replaced it with calico
  • Scrooge was aghast as he saw his things pawned off and sold after his own death. He also attended his own funeral, where he heard wealthy businessmen talking about how no one would attend (unless lunch was served)
  • at the cemetery, Scrooge pondered: "Are these the shadows of things that must be? Or are they only shadows of things that might be? l know that men's deeds foreshadow certain ends, but if the deeds be departed from, surely the ends will change! Tell me it is so with what you show me now" - and then Scrooge horrifically saw his own engraved tombstone in the cemetery. He pleaded with the Ghost: "Tell me l'm not already dead....I'm not the man I was! Why show me all this if l'm beyond all hope? Oh, pity me, Spirit, pity me! And help me!" He asked for repentance: "l'll make good the wrongs l've done my fellow man. And, l'll change!"
  • on Christmas morning after awakening from his frightful dreams, Scrooge seemed crazed, giddy (as a drunken man) and wild-haired. He tried to reassure his screaming and hysterical maid Mrs. Dilber who fled from him down the stairs, that he was still himself: "Please, Mrs. Dilber. I am not mad. Even if I do this!" He gave her a guinea coin as a Christmas present, raised her pay from two to ten shillings a week, and gave her the day off
  • feeling redeemed, Scrooge went to a window and sent a boy (with the promise of a shilling) to purchase a turkey at the local butcher's shop, to be anonymously delivered to the Cratchits' home. (The Cratchit family reacted in astonishment, thinking Scrooge had taken leave of his senses: "What would make Mr. Scrooge take such leave of his senses suddenly?")
  • Scrooge then called on his nephew Fred at his house and asked for forgiveness for refusing to dine with him earlier. He also asked forgiveness from Fred's wife (Olga Edwardes): "Can you forgive a pig-headed old fool for having no eyes to see with, no ears to hear with - all these years?" And then he danced a lively polka with her
  • the next day at work, Cratchit arrived late and feared being fired as he meekly approached Scrooge in his office. However, Scrooge laughed uncontrollably as he happily raised Bob Cratchit's salary, and then he promised: "From now on, I want to try to help you to raise that family of yours, if you'll let me..."; then he added (as he mumbled and cackled to himself): "I don't deserve to be so happy! But I can't help it. I just can't help it."
  • the narrator (Peter Bull, in voice-over) concluded the film with laudatory comments about Scrooge, as he ran to meet up with Tiny Tim - now running without crutches: "Scrooge was better than his word. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city ever knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. And to Tiny Tim, who lived and got well again, he became a second father...And it was always said that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us. And so, as Tiny Tim observed, 'God Bless Us - Everyone.'"

Ebenezer Scrooge
(Alastair Sim)

Scrooge's Nephew Fred (Brian Worth)

Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns)

Marley's Ghost in Scrooge's Door Knocker

Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern)

Young Scrooge (George Cole)

Scrooge's Sister Fan (Carol Marsh)

Scrooge's Fiancee Alice (Rona Anderson)

Mr. Fezziwig (Roddy Hughes)

Mr. Jorkin (Jack Warner)

Young Marley (Patrick MacNee)

Ignorance and Want

(l to r: Laundress, Undertaker, Char Lady, Old Joe)

Mrs. Dilber (Kathleen Harrison)

Mrs. Cratchit (Hermione Baddeley)

Tiny Tim (Glyn Dearman)

Fred's wife (Olga Edwardes)

The Ending: Scrooge with Tiny Tim


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