A Christmas Carol (1938)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Christmas Carol</strong> (1938)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) Christmas day is a good day to watch as many versions of A Christmas Carol as you can tolerate, and my second go-around is the 1938 version of the story. One might think that the film may not compare to more recent adaptations of the same Dickens story, but as it turns out A Christmas Carol has one major advantage up its sleeves in terms of timelessness: it was already old and historical by the time it was filmed, and so doesn’t suffer as much from decades gone by. This 1938 version has dated but fascinating optical effects, Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge, and a no-fuss no-muss approach to a straight-up adaptation with a few frills as possible. Compared to other versions of the story, this one clocks in at a very efficient 69 minutes. Hurriedly made by MGM in mere weeks as a family film, it’s considerably lighter on the potential darkness of the original tale. And that’s why we can enjoy multiple takes on the same material.

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