STEVIE MILLER reviews Carol for Another Christmas 1964, Rob Serling’s retelling of the Dicken’s classic, where a bitter man begins to understand the significance of unity over division – just in time for Christmas.
TITLE: Carol for Another Christmas
DIRECTOR: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
WRITER: Rod Serling
CAST: Sterling Hayden, Ben Gazzara, Steve Lawrence, Eva Marie Saint, Pat Hingle, Percy Rodriguez, Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland, Robert Shaw, James Shigeta and Barbara Ann Teer
Carol For Another Christmas is a film based on Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”. Made in black and white in 1964 and directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz, the film featured some well-known stars, including Sterling Hayden, Robert Shaw, Peter Sellers, Steve Lawrence and Britt Ekland, to name a few.
This made-for-television film, written by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling, was one of a few planned specials to promote the United Nations.
In a large house in post World War 2 America, a grieving Mr Grudge (Sterling Hayden) continues to mourn the premature loss of his son during the conflict. Bitter and deflated with life, he is one of the last isolationists, wanting no involvement in other countries, or their people.
While his nephew Fred (Ben Gazzara) visits, the pair argue after Grudge refuses his professor nephew’s request for assistance in plans for interaction and discussion between academics in other countries. Grudge believed that no good could, or would, come from having people like this in the country.
In keeping with Dickens’s tradition, three ghosts swiftly visit him.
Ghost Number One
Ghost one is, predictably, The Ghost of Christmas past. Played by Steve Lawrence, the ghost takes Grudge on a troopship filled with dead bodies from war and engages in a series of conversations based on Grudge’s world thoughts. He tries to impress the need for dialogue and negotiation between nations, as the ghost states, “when the talking stops, the fighting begins”.
The spirit takes him through a doorway. They are now standing in the aftermath of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima; this is where Grudge visited while in service in 1945. The spectre shows Grudge a reenactment of him and his female driver (Eva Marie Saint) pulling up at a hospital where there is singing from small children who are victims of flash burns from the blast,
The spirits message is clear: this is the real face of war.
Grudge is made to go inside the hospital where he meets ghost number two: The Ghost of Christmas present.
Ghost Number Two
Grudge now stands looking at a huge table filled with food and the ghost eating away – representing the gluttony of the human race. The spirit (played by Pat Hingle) then shows an encampment of displaced people with no food or water,
Grudge asks how the ghost can eat in front of them, to which the ghost replies, isn’t that what you do behind closed doors? Do you think of starving people when you eat?
Grudge can no longer take any more and wants to go home, yet finds himself alone and surrounded by barbed wire.
Looking up, he sees ghost number three: The Ghost of Christmas Future.
Ghost Number Three
Grudge soon realises that he is standing in the town hall of his home town; it has been decimated. After asking the ghost (played by Robert Shaw) what happened, he informs Grudge that foreign dialogue failed and that countries started pulling out of the United Nations. The world was filled with anger and prejudice, suspicion and hate.
It’s now Doomsday. Everyone has bombed everyone else.
Grudge is now shown the Imperial Me (Peter Sellers). In front of a crowd, the Imperial Me tells the group to stamp out the word “We” and replace it with “I”. The crowd begin to chant, “Me, Me, Me.”
In reply to this, the Imperial Me responds with, “Go kill the people across the water, then kill one another until only one is left, which is “ME”.
Grudge, by now frightened, wants to know, can it all be changed?
There is no reply.
He awakes back in his house; it’s now Christmas morning. His three visitors have made him realise the need for communication, discord and unity amongst nations.
He has breakfast with his staff and listens to children singing carols.
He also apologises to his nephew.
Final Thoughts On Carol For Another Christmas
I found this film still resonates today, as there are a lot of similarities to world events and leaders we have, but there must be dialogue and a genuine want to help one another.
I would recommend you give this a watch and see how you can relate to the world today.
Have you seen Carol for Another Christmas 1964? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Watch Carol for Another Christmas 1964
Guest Writer STEVIE MILLER hasn’t always been interested in the paranormal – in fact, the whole thing terrified him! London born and bred, but now living in the West of Scotland, Stevie spends his spare time, when he can, travelling to various haunted locations throughout Britain and Ireland with his long-suffering missus, hoping to experience something ghostly. His other hobbies include military aviation, football, and beer.