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A Christmas Carol (Original B&W Version)
A Christmas Carol
Original B&W Version
Actors: Alastair Sim, Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley
Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
NR     1999     1hr 26min

This is the desert-island choice of the many versions of A Christmas Carol, with a magnificent, full-bodied portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge by Alastair Sim that leaves everyone else in the dust. Lean and direct, this film's ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Alastair Sim, Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley
Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
Creators: C.M. Pennington-Richards, Brian Desmond Hurst, Clive Donner, Stanley Haynes, Charles Dickens, Noel Langley
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, 7-9 Years, 10-12 Years, Adapted from Books, Family Films, Fantasy
Studio: Vci Video
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/02/1999
Original Release Date: 01/01/1951
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1951
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 23
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

Still the Standard
History Man | Potomac, Maryland USA | 11/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are two superb film adaptations of this Dickens classic; this one and the 1984 TV film starring George C. Scott. Both do justice to the original novella far beyond any other dramatizations. However, it is this 1951 British version that got there first and no doubt inspired the 1984 remake. Both Alastair Sim and Scott breath life into the character of Scrooge and make him a three-dimensional personality whose life and fate take on far greater meaning than they do in the hands of other actors who have taken on this role. Sim, of course, became the definitive Scrooge by first taking the character seriously and by portraying Scrooge as more than a simplistic cardboard cutout. For those of us who were raised on this version of the film, Sim will always "be" Scrooge. That does not detract from Scott's performance at all and he was quoted as saying he knew from the start that he could never hope to match Sim's effort. Nonetheless, he succeeded in carving out his own highly credible, compelling portrait of Scrooge which stands beside that of Sim's, like two magnificent paintings sharing the same wall. Both films should be enjoyed and appreciated as the fine, individual achievements that they are and both will stand as "definitive" for a very, very long time. We are the richer for having such a marvelous choice."
Ultimate Collector's Edition indeed!
Brian Reaves | Anniston, AL USA | 10/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I only discovered this movie about four years ago but have watched it every Christmas since. To me it's the best version of the Christmas Carol ever made, and now it gets the best treatment you could have ever hoped for. This two disc collector's edition contains two different versions of this movie. First is the colorized version, but then the second is the real treat. They went back to the original prints of this and worked from there. After carefully removing the skips, scratches, and jerky frames, they digitally restored the movie to a version that looks as if it were made yesterday! The sound has been changed to 5.1 digital surround, and there's even a widescreen version for 16:9 televisions.

The special features include an earlier version of Christmas Carol (not as good as this one), as well as several featurettes on the movie, interviews with the stars, a feature on Alistair Sim, and others.

You can tell the distributor put a lot of effort into this restoration and it shows. I wish they'd do the same for other great films like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Bishop's Wife".

Highly recommended as the best version of this classic you'll find anywhere."
A haunting ghost story
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 12/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Somehow, across the years, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his three ghosts has been transformed from it's spooky roots to light-hearted family fare. Scrooge is not so much evil, as grumpy. The ghost's tend to amuse rather than frighten.This black-and-white version of "A Christmas Carol" maintains the horror roots of the story. Jacob Marley is one of the most frightening ghosts to haunt the silver screen. He grows intolerant of the idea that Scrooge is not frightened, and howls his rage and frustration. The Ghost of Christmas Past is an impersonal specter, cold and distant. Present is jolly and yet quick to anger. Future is the grim shade that he is supposed to be.The back story of Scrooge is told in greater detail here than in any other version. He resents Fred, not because of his Christmas cheer but because his birth caused the death of Scrooge's beloved sister. He not only remembers the good times at Fezzywig's, he remembers putting Fezzywig out of business later in life. Alastair Sim brings this character to fullness more than any other actor. The Christmas morning scene is a delight, and worth the wait.As a bonus, the Fleischer "Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer" is included on this disk. This is clearly Santa Claus by the people who gave us the first animated Superman. The animation is fluid and dynamic. One of the best extras on any DVD."
Meticulous restoration of a holiday classic
Penumbra | Atlanta, GA USA | 10/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although this 1951 classic film takes some liberties with the Dicken's novel, it remains the film most faithful to the original story. Some of the sets and costumes were directly inspired by the memorable illustrations in the first edition of the book. Alastair Sim is very convincing as the miserly Scrooge who, after a terrifying night of ghostly visits, is transformed into a man who knows how to keep Christmas in his heart.

There have been many DVD editions of this holiday favorite in recent years, several of them from VCI Entertainment. In this package, VCI has included some things featured on previous releases (commentary, Dickens biography, etc.), but the real star of this set is the beautifully restored version of the black and white film. According to a short feature on the restoration of the film, VCI has finally been able to obtain film elements from the original master. Apparently they didn't have access to a complete master, so they used several of the best prints they could gather and digitally read them to determine which frames were the best available. The rest was cleaned up by hand. It sounds like a labor of love, and the result is visible on the screen. The restored print is available in 4x3 and 16x9 in 1:37:1 format. (According to the Amazon product description page, the aspect ratio is given as 1:87 and elsewhere as 1:33, the DVD box says 1:37.) There are a few seconds of less than pristine audio, but overall this is a gorgeous effort.

A nice touch I've never seen on a DVD before is an optional audio track for the blind, in which a narrator describes the action on the screen pausing for dialog from the actors. A wandering commentary track with Marcus Heard and George Cole (young Scrooge) is included. Much of the commentary is reprised in a feature interview by Heard in which Cole reminisces about Alastair Sim, "Spirit of Christmas Past." The audio is in English only. Subtitles are in English or Spanish.

The second disc offers the original 1935 Seymour Hicks' film version of the story. A colorized version of the 1951 film is also included on Disc 2; the brief introduction by Patrick McNee (young Marley) has been seen before on previous releases of the colorized version. There are also theatrical trailers from the UK release ("Scrooge") and the US release ("A Christmas Carol").

VCI has given us a beautiful package here. They've done a great job with the restoration of a film treasure. Many viewers will never have seen such a good print of this holiday favorite before. The bonus features are a nice inclusion, but the restoration is the real reason to get this edition. Highly recommended!"