My number two is a made for television version. In 1984, a long, long time ago, CBS debuted this special, and it’s been a favorite for many since it’s original airing. With a mostly British cast and filmed on location in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, this adaptation has a very authentic feel to it. And the inspired casting of the lead lends a great deal to its charm.
#2 – A Christmas Carol -1984
This very close to the book adaptation owes a lot to three critical things, the deft direction of Clive Donner, an extremely talented cast, and a strong script. While Dickens himself has supplied the bulk of the dialog, the scriptwriters had to execute the narrative and made wise choices in doing so.
The real star here is our Ebenezer. George C. Scott is a force of nature and a powerful actor. We get something outside of the Scrooge we are familiar with. Here he is not a frail old man, withered by his cold soul and time; instead, he is stout, bold, and voracious in his appetites. Scott brings menace, sarcasm, and confidence to the roll, a resolute nature that needs obliterating to find reclamation.
The rest of the cast stands tall and doesn’t fade away in the long shadows of Scott’s performance. David Warner as Bob Cratchit is a nice turn for an actor who always seems to be the bad guy. He delivers a very tender performance. The ghosts all do excellent service to their roles as well.
This is a pitch-perfect adaptation, and I feel it works in all capacities of film. While made for television, it transcends the other attempts at putting this story on screen. I cannot recommend this enough.
Tomorrow I will return for my top pick for A Christmas Carol.