A Christmas Carol (1923):
Review by
William Mortensen Vaughan
As of: 10:30 a.m. E.S.T., Monday, April 10, 2017

A Christmas Carol (1923)
Title:   Scrooge/A Christmas Carol

My Rating:  **

Adaptation: 1923 adaptation, starring
Russell Thorndike as Ebenezer Scrooge

Date Released: May 1, 1923

Format Reviewed: live-action, black and white, "silent" film, on DVD

Is this adaptation reverent?: Yes, this adaptation is reverent, and includes the hymn "O, Come, All Ye Faithful!" as background music while Fred's wife and her sister prepare for Christmas, presumably in Fred's home.

Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."? No.

What does my wife think of it? She thinks it's creepy. She's not fond of silent films, since most, if not all of the actors seen in them, have passed away.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens? This adaptation does not follow the original novel very well; it seems like an abridged version, although it starts with Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit (Jack Denton) in Scrooge's office.

Fred comes to invite Scrooge to dinner.

Then one man comes to ask for a charitable donation.

Then there is a scene, presumably at Fred's house, with the hymn "O, Come, All Ye Faithful!" sung in the background, while Fred's wife and her sister decorate the interior of their home for Christmas. Fred arrives, and informs them that Uncle Scrooge refused his invitation to Christmas Dinner, and calls Christmas a "humbug."

Back at Scrooge's office, Scrooge gives Cratchit the next day off for Christmas, and leaves him to lock their office up.

The scene outside Scrooge's home is skipped, as well as the tavern scene.

Jacob Marley (Forbes Dawson's) ghost appears to Scrooge as he has his supper in an easy chair by his fireplace, dressed in his robe and nightcap.

He tells him that three spirits will haunt him, the first "tomorrow"; the second, the following night; and the third, the third night.

Then the Spirit of Christmas Past appears, looking like an old man dressed like an angel or the Pope. He shows Scrooge a vision of the woman who refused to marry him, because he was obsessed by the love of gold, and engrossed with gain.

After the vision, the Spirit of Christmas Past stands only about waist high to Scrooge. Scrooge tells him to show him no more, so he puts his metallic, cone-shaped cap on, and disappears.

Then the Spirit of Christmas Present appears, looking like a giant Santa Claus. The mantel over the fireplace is above Scrooge's eye level as he stands beside it, but comes only to the Spirit's chest, as seen through its translucence.

The Spirit of Christmas present doesn't bother to show Scrooge any visions. He identifies himself, and says that he will spend "tomorrow" in the homes of Fred, Bob, and all who love Christmas, but he refuses to stay with Scrooge. Then he disappears.

Scrooge attempts to walk out of his living room, perhaps to his bedroom, but is blocked by the entrance of "the Spirit of the Future," who enters, looking like a Ku Klux Klan member in a cheap, gray sheet.

After identifying himself, not as the Spirit or Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, but merely as the Spirit of the Future, he steps back outside, gesturing for Scrooge to follow him.

Outside, the Spirit shows Scrooge a tombstone with his name inscribed on it.

Scrooge pleads for mercy, and wakes up back in his easy chair, by his fireplace.

Then there is a scene back at Fred's, where Fred's wife apparently catches Topper proposing to her sister. She invites Fred to join her in listening to Topper's proposal, on bended knee, to her sister. Then, as the four of them are congratulating each other, Scrooge arrives, and the five of them have Christmas Dinner together.

That evening, Scrooge has Bob over to his place for steaming punch, and promises to double his salary.

Then Scrooge proposes a toast to a merry Christmas and a happy new year for all the world.

What dialect is used? (Not applicable)

When and where does this adaptation take place? Victorian London.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel? No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, with ghosts and time travel or visions.

Is this adaptation "framed"? No.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included? There is background music, but no song and dance routines are included, in this adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

How attractive is the visual art? The set, architecture, and art are poorly done, and sparse. The most impressive thing about this film is the wardrobe, except in the case of the Spirit of the Future.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another? The transitions are poorly done. The Spirit of Christmas Past doesn't even leave Scrooge's living room, but shows him one vision, of Scrooge's fiancee breaking off her engagement to Scrooge, in the middle of the living room. The Spirit of Christmas Present is gigantic and transclucent, but appears and disappears without taking Scrooge anywhere, or showing him even one vision. The Spirit of the Future doesn't even look like a ghost. He walks through a doorway, and leads Scrooge outside like a Ku Klux Klan member taking a victim away to be lynched.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the importance given to "Mrs. Fred's sister" and Topper, with the addition of a scene for party preparations and another for Topper's marriage proposal.

What extras are included on the DVD? No special features are available on the DVD.

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