NOW SHOWING: A Christmas Carol (1951) / by Paul Pensom

Yes, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with good old uncle Eberneezer once again.


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We don’t know about you, but here at SP we love Christmas. No matter how disappointing or underwhelming the reality turns out to be, come December we’re always raring for another crack at it.

One of our evergreen Christmas pleasures are festive movies: some of us here are old enough to remember the thrill of excitement evinced by the words “network television premiere”, a phrase meaning little now, that was once the promise of great riches. A film might take five years to reach TV, and if you missed the Christmas premiere it might be another three before you finally caught it, making it nearly a decade from theatrical release until you saw the damn thing. Life was slower back then.

In amongst the blockbusters though there was great joy to be had in the hinterlands, where you could always be sure to find A Christmas Carol if you looked hard enough. Dickens’ morality tale had already been filmed several times by 1951, but over the years Alastair Sim’s version has come to be accepted as definitive. It’s got everything you could wish for, including a magnificent Marley by Michael Hordern.

Here at SP we could watch Sim in anything, and indeed often do. He had that rare quality of a select few character actors to imbue any material he was given with humour and interest. If you haven’t already, seek him out in School For Scoundrels, The Green Man and An Inspector Calls, to name but a few. Enjoy him here, at his haughty, belaboured finest:

“Cratchit, you'll want the whole day off tomorrow, I suppose?”