Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom, 1970. Cinema Center Films, Waterbury Films. Screenplay by Leslie Bricusse, based on the story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Cinematography by Oswald Morris. Produced by Robert H. Solo. Music by Leslie Bricusse. Production Design by Terence Marsh. Costume Design by Margaret Furse. Film Editing by Peter Weatherley. Academy Awards 1970. Golden Globe Awards 1970.
Charles Dickens’ best known story is adapted into a big, colourful musical starring a mid-thirties Albert Finney hamming it up as the old miser who hates the holidays. Between the sounds of some pretty mediocre songs by Leslie Bricusse, Scrooge rejects Christmas before being visited by a succession of phantoms throughout the night who remind him of his past, clear up his vision of the present and warn him of the future. Finney is something of a washout in the role, really pushing hard on old-man mannerisms that eventually grow tiresome, and the film is bathed in a ridiculous palette of hues that take away from the grimmer aspects of the story: his segment in the future when he falls into a pit of hell replete with gorgeous bright red backdrops is laughably ridiculous. On the upside, there are genuine moments that work, such as the scenes in his nephew’s home presented by the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the finale with Tiny Tim is moving; this one, however, has nothing on the definitive Alastair Sim adaptation that will likely always be the best for capturing the original’s atmosphere and literary quality.