Welcome back to our final entry of the year, and a HUGE Thank You to Kara and Chrissy for this WONDERFUL piece, of Elsa Lanchester's Bride all stunningly styled up for the Holidays! As an original Monster Kid of the '60s, I absolutely adore this and would love to see a print of this as a poster.
Let's up end the old stocking one last time and see what tumbles out. Ah, we begin with some final thoughts from our Writer In Residence this year, Justin von Bosau:
The following was written as my, “Oh, I should introduce my articles!” hastily, around the time I did the 1935 article! I forgot to ask for it to be included, so here it is now!
I may not be paid by the word, but I hate for them to go to waste:
“Well, here we are again!
I guess you’re wondering how Justin got around to writing more for the blog, and to explain and introduce what’s going on, and to stall for time while I finish more articles (and cackle at Walt texting me “Hey, smart-ass!”, about a comment in a later article about his tapes), here’s a brief summary :D
I foolishly offered to review “The Magus” which was the equivalent of that shock image online of finding a spider in your eggnog.
I was tempted by money into reviewing “Unarius 2: Caveman Boogaloo” and got around to it once the nice men in white coats calmed me down.
Since Dad’s been doing the K.A.C. for something like 13 years now, we’ll be blunt and polite and say that the well to draw from for new Christmas lore / traditions / articles is running a bit dry, minus the ever-lasting car crash that is The Sun’s articles on weirdness. Nonetheless, my mom actually had the idea to do our theme this year, and I agreed, and I offered to do it myself because heck! I’ve got some steam! I think I can, I think I can.
To back up a little, and give context:
Every year, my dad used to read “A Christmas Carol” to me, and then when those darn kids and their attention spans and their electronic doohickeys took over, we switched to watching a version of the film every Dec. 24th as a family!
There are, in fact, quite a few versions.
Usually we watched the 1984 version with George C. Scott, but branched out to the 1951 quintessential with Alastair Sim; Simon Callow’s stage reading; the Thomas Edison version; the 1935 version with Seymour Hicks; the 2019 “you definitely made something” version; the Muppets darling version; the Mischief Theatre version. Recently, we watched the 1999 version, which my mother said might be her new favorite, and which touches on so many little unseen bits and baubles that it was now brought up which versions did show what? And how many are there?
(36! Counted ‘em myself-- no, sorry, there’s a lot more than that.)
So, I took to finding articles on “what’s the best version; what’s the worst version; what’s the ranking of--”, and found that a lot of people cover a lot of the basics, but nobody really covers them all. Which is understandable, because it’d be nigh impossible to do THAT. But then I started thinking, which is at best a recipe for an interesting day, and at worst, the thought that “hey, maybe I could do an article on all of them…”
This was mostly brought about by an excellent article linked here by Richard Jones, who covered a lot of versions I had watched and many more I hadn’t. I liked his writing style, and, being American, thought, “Well, I’m going to copy the Brits, but do it EXCESSIVELY MORE.” Mr. Jones, if you someday read this, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the 1914 silent film.
With all that preamble, I hope I’ve raised the Ghost of an Idea of what’s to come: this year, and probably a good few more to come, I’m going to go through as many adaptations of “A Christmas Carol” as I possible can--including book sequels, radio and audio readings, stage-plays, and even some of the films here and there! Please enjoy!!!
(I’ve been on this for a few months now, and am past the silent era into the greater sound films. Dad and I were so loopy discussing these that we started hypothesizing who the worst Scrooge would be, and how much we’d want to watch those train-wreck versions. Dad’s initial pick was Shemp Howard as Scrooge, and the Three Stooges as the three ghosts. I for one would absolutely LOVE a version with Larry and his fiddle as Christmas Past, Curly whoop-whooping through the Present, and Moe angrily yelling "SHADDUP!", and pointing through the Future. My pick was initially an Elvis Presley musical as Scrooge, blue-blue-blue Chrisssmuussssing through, but when we landed on:
“PRESENTING: JOHN WAYNE AS SCROOGE!”
“You keep Christmas in your own way-- and let me keep it in mine, pilgrim!”
We both burst out laughing so hard we had to stop or we’d run out of air.)
The point is, I’m slightly loopy, made worse by getting over a back issue that I needed pain meds for, and it’ll show in the writing. Maybe getting more and more unhinged will make for a fun read? Either way, enjoy, and if it gets too hectic send those men in white coats my way again; tell them “yeah it’s the ‘Unarius’ kid again; yes the one going on about the mask…”
So! Like the US itself, this is to blame from me scoffing and looking at something British (in this case, an article very much worth your time!) and going, “I could do better!”
Okay, it didn’t go like that, but for the sake of metaphor, it did. Truthfully, I was very inspired by Richard Jones’ article, because I was yearning to hear about, "But what about this version or that version??” which wasn’t covered, and excited to see for myself some of the later 2000s versions which he did mention. There’s a ton I haven’t seen, and a ton more neither of us seem to have seen, and the longer my list of “to watch” became, the more flustered I got.
I had to keep amending; okay I’ll cover films only--okay films and TV films--okay films and TV films and TV knock-offs--okay that and radio, okay--
It’s been pleasant and very informative! I’m glad I covered radio along with everything else: I would’ve truly missed the history of Lionel Barrymore’s Scrooge-ing and all the ins and outs.
That said, today, it’s Christmas Eve itself. Bob Cratchit’s stuck at work, and hopefully you aren’t--at least not too late! If you are, I’ll provide you with a few little tidbits of info, along with some fun videos that I hope make “A Christmas Carol” reviews and adaptations enjoyable in the broader scope:
Did You Know? There are FOUR video games I can find based on ACC! The first two are listed on Wikipedia as fan-made “Mega Man: A Christmas Carol” games. Of the other two, one of them is a Nintendo DS game (which may have other versions for other consoles) that’s a tie-in of the 2009 Disney Jim Carrey movie! The last one, truly an oddity, is a point-and-click Hidden Object game where you play as Scrooge’s nephew (I think?) and all the footage I’ve seen from it is the beginning where some Christmas faerie / spirit has summoned you because Scrooge is trapped(?) in his redemption, and you have to assemble a locket of him and Belle. It goes from there. A full playthrough of the DS game can be found here, and the Hidden Object here, though fair warning: I haven’t had time to watch through them, so I can’t say if they’re SFW if there’s commentary.
Did You Know? In keeping with the SFW or otherwise for a brief moment, as mentioned in the 1949 review (I think it was that one), there is in fact a 1975 Blue Film version of “A Christmas Carol,” which was, at least when it came out, I believe the only Dickens adaptation to get such a treatment! Entitled “The Passions of Carol,” the plot description is effectively exactly what you’re thinking, and yes, upsettingly, in looking it up there is actually someone selling DVDs of it. I’m making Walter procure that particular hard copy. Read the IMDb trivia at your own risk--I appreciate the last comment of, “Watch this and the Alastair Sim one back to back.”
Did You Know? There are quite a few books that are spin-offs of “A Christmas Carol!” Usually they fall into two camps: sequels with Timothy Cratchit repeating some Scrooge-like journey, or Marley earning his own redemption arc--specifically, 19 for a sequel and 8 for a Marley-book, if I counted right! Tim’s been everything from a miser to a homicide detective to a ninja. There’s also a sequel of Fred, determined to hunt down the person who murdered his wife and Scrooge’s ghost trying to lead him away from a dark path. That one’s in fact a comic strip, called “Of Christmas Past” by Johnny Low and Seaward Tuthill. There is also a prequel book, four or five celebrated illustrated editions (of the NUMEROUS more out there, Wikipedia recognized 4 or 5), TWO DIFFERENT ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS CAROLS, a modern version, an Amish version, a Jewish version, a vegan version that omits all instances of meat mentioned, and two Batman Comics versions, the more famous of which is 2011’s “Batman Noël”! There’s even a delightful “FoxTrot” strip here from 1998: “Jasonezer Scrooge”!
For a few final fun videos, there is a very neat little comparison here of the Marley doorknocker, from 1901 all the way to 2019! It’s crazy that we have a full 118 years of Marley-knockers.
There’s also a newer video on “Villain Therapy: Ebenezer Scrooge”, on the wonderful channel Cinema Therapy. It’s a great mix of a filmmaker and a therapist looking at films and analyzing them based on their respective professions--and here, they break down “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol”, specifically to see just what makes Michael Caine tick! Maybe a holdover from being in “The Magus”?
I guess to wrap up, amidst multitudes of “straight adaptations” or “reimaginings,” I start to look at lists about “which one is the closest to the book?” For that purpose, I quite like “Lost In Adaptation” by Dominic Noble (formerly The Dom) on YouTube. I like his videos quite a bit, both as humor and especially as trivia! I especially like, too, that he does his best to be fair to films that are terrible, still listing things that are good about them, even if they’re few and far between. It’s also always fun to me to just go, “Wait, that was a book?” He did a two-parter on “A Christmas Carol” here and here, which I hope you enjoy! (There are, I should warn you, rather a lot of swears, but nothing that’d drop a high-schooler’s jaw at least.)
With that, please forgive me, but I’m a tired old man. It’s been a long day of BUSINESS! and I just got home. There was something weird about my door-knocker, but I’m overlooking that--I already took my melancholy dinner at my melancholy tavern, and I think a nice bowl of gruel is looking delightfully yummy! So I’ll bid you farewell until next year’s reviews--provided you want them to return, of course--and go on upstairs to my dark chambers where surely no Christmas ghosts are lurking…
Thank you for reading, and God Bless Us, Every One!
We would be remiss to end the year without at least ONE 'Sketchy Santa' article, so may we present Buzzfeed's '17 Poorly Designed Things That Make Santa Look Like Kind Of A Weirdo' - we've featured at least THREE of these in K.A.C. articles of years past, but this new batch has to be seen to be believed!
Finally, we end as we do every year with our traditional Christmas ghost story. You would think that after so many days of A Christmas Carol, we would be surfeited on ghosts, but not so! Our featured author this year is Oliver Onions (1973-1961), who wrote in many different genres, but is best remembered now for his ghost stories and supernatural fiction. We leave you with a novella he wrote in 1911, one I consider his best piece of work, that like the best ghost stories is a psychological tale that takes its time to get under your skin, but once it's there, it gets its claws in you and rides you to the hair-raising end. Settle in to a comfy chair, turn off all but your reading lights, wrap a blanket around you and have your favorite hot beverage close by as you read the tale of 'The Beckoning Fair One':
Since I'm SURE I can't top that, this is a good place to wrap things up. My thanks again to Justin for his fine series of articles, for you for stopping by to read these daily doses of delirium, and to all the people our there who inadvertently give us fodder for the K.A.C. each and every year - we love ya!
Until next year, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and we'll do it all over again next year at the same time, when the calendar turns to December 1st once again. Be safe!