Scrooge 1970 is a delightful festive spectacle that continues to enchant audiences with its timeless charm, says CHRISTINE MILLER
DIRECTOR: Ronald Neame
CAST: Albert Finney, Alec Guinness, Edith Evans, Kenneth More, Laurence Naismith, Michael Medwin, David Collings, Anton Rodgers, Suzanne Neve
Review of Scrooge 1970
As the opening credits roll for Scrooge, we, the audience, are transported to Victorian London, where the streets are bustling with a lively chorus of carollers. The atmosphere is immediately set – you can almost smell the roasted chestnuts and feel the crisp winter air.
The late, great Albert Finney, adorned in his finest Scrooge attire – complete with a scowl that could curdle eggnog – is a revelation. His portrayal of the miserly old sod is not just a performance; it’s a masterclass in embodying the spirit of Dickens‘ selfish and apathetic character. Alex Guinness plays the role of Jacob Marley, and it was to be a role that would land Guinness in hospital with a double hernia, thanks to the flying mechanism he had to navigate on set.
Anyway, back to the film. Director Ronald Neame’s decision to infuse the narrative with musical numbers adds an extra layer of holiday cheer. Who could forget the toe-tapping fun of Thank You Very Much, for example?
(The answer is no one. This ear worm will be lodged in your brain for weeks, if not longer; maybe eternity, who knows? The rest of the songs, however, don’t exactly pack the same punch, but still provide a healthy dose of festive fun.)
With a chorus of dancing grave-diggers, Thank You Very Much turns the grim prospect of death into a jubilant celebration, proving that even in the face of death, there’s always room for a bit of a bop. Finney’s Scrooge may be reluctant at first, but he soon caves into the infectious rhythm, transforming from tight-fisted grouch to merry reveler.
And while the acting may be mesmeric and the songs aplenty, I just cannot hope to discuss Scrooge without touching on the spectacular set design and costume choices that instantly transport viewers to Dickensian England.
The film’s production team recreated the cobblestone streets, gas lamps, and swirling London fog, which, even today in the face of CGI and AI, continue to hold their own, just in a different way The costumes, rich in thought, detail and authenticity, whisk audiences away to a bygone era where top hats and bonnets were the height of fashion.
But, before you think we at Spooky Isles have gone completely soft; no review of Scrooge would be complete without a nod to the ethereal spirits that guide our protagonist on his transformative journey.
The Ghost of Christmas Past, played with radiant grace by Dame Edith Evans, is a vision in white, whisking Scrooge through the corridors of time.
The Ghost of Christmas Present, portrayed by the jovial Kenneth More, is a larger-than-life character, radiating warmth and merriment.
And who could forget the haunting and eerie presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Paddy Stone), shrouded in mystery and sending shivers down even the hardiest of spines? Its silent and wholly ominous nature force Scrooge to confront his own mortality and the consequences of his actions. The first glimpse of the ghost in the film is something that put the fear into me as a child, and having just rewatched this classic film some 25 years on, still leaves me a tad spooked..
Then, of course, we have Scrooge’s transformation for the better. The culmination of Scrooge’s nocturnal encounters with the Ghosts of Christmas has left him a man encompassing good will, kindness, and generosity.
At the Christmas film’s heartwarming conclusion, call me soppy, but I can’t help but be moved by the sheer joy and redemption that shines from the screen. You see, Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption arc is not just a triumph for the character; it’s a triumph for the spirit of Christmas itself. And, it’s a little reminder for us all that it’s never too late to rediscover the joy of giving, love, and compassion.
Ok, maybe I am a little bit soppy.
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