Friday, 25 November 2011

Basil Rathbone as Scrooge (1954)

This rarely seen version of A Christmas Carol was broadcast on December 23, 1954, the fourth episode in the series Shower of Stars (1954-1958). The show usually took the format of a variety revue with celebrity guests such as Jack Benny, Shirley MacLaine and Ethel Merman, but occasionally there were plays like this one, starring Basil Rathbone as Ebenezer Scrooge. Fredric March is the narrator, and unknowns fill out the rest of the cast.

The story is heavily condensed to fill a mere 25 minutes. Sadly, the main victim is just about any reference to the injustices of Victorian London. The social concerns of "Ignorance and Want" were foremost in Dickens's mind when he wrote A Christmas Carol, so it's pleasing when an adaptation makes an attempt to set Scrooge's story in this context. It's almost entirely absent from this version, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, the chance to see Rathbone couples with the film's rarity to make it worth a look, even just to satisfy curiosity. Watch the videos below or click here to see the film on YouTube (in three parts).




3 comments:

  1. Great post. Thanks for the videos.

    Basil Rathbone made a very classy and stylish Holmes. Check out my tribute to this great performer.

    I am curious to see his performance as Scrooge :)

    Cheers!

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  2. Basil Rathbone plays as the ghost of Jacob Marley, it's Fredric March that plays Scrooge.

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  3. This show from 1954 was never on video tape as video tape wasn't invented until 1956. This TV program is often confused with THE STINGIEST MAN IN TOWN, a 1956 musical broadcast in color and starring Basil Rathbone in an adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

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