A Christmas Carol (1938)

69 mins | Fantasy, Drama | 16 December 1938

Director:

Edwin L. Marin

Writer:

Hugo Butler

Cinematographer:

Sidney Wagner

Editor:

George Boemler

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to HR news items, John Seitz temporarily replaced cameraman Sidney Wagner during production when Wagner was ill with a bad case of flu, and Marvin Stuart replaced assistant director Dolph Zimmer when Zimmer had a cold. According to various news items and material from the picture's press pack, Lionel Barrymore was originally cast as Scrooge, a role which he had performed on radio each Christmas morning for several years, but ill-health prevented him from being in the production. It was he who suggested Reginald Owen for the part. Barrymore did not perform the radio version of A Christmas Carol in 1938 so that it would not interfere with the success of the picture, and he appeared in a special trailer for it called "A Fireside Chat with Lionel Barrymore" which was produced by Frank Whitbeck and directed by Edward L. Marin. An HR news item and the Var review note that M-G-M released 375 prints of the film, a record number, so that as many people as possible could see it during the Christmas season. An M-G-M production bulletin noted that it took Owen almost two hours each day in makeup to prepare for his role. Reviews noted that it was English actor Barry Mackay's first American role. NYT mentioned that the Radio City Music Hall showing of the film was preceded by a special holiday revue featuring the Vienna Boys Choir and the Walt Disney cartoon, "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood."
       There have been many adaptations of Dickens' story, beginning with a British short produced in 1901. There was an Edison short in 1911 and ... More Less

According to HR news items, John Seitz temporarily replaced cameraman Sidney Wagner during production when Wagner was ill with a bad case of flu, and Marvin Stuart replaced assistant director Dolph Zimmer when Zimmer had a cold. According to various news items and material from the picture's press pack, Lionel Barrymore was originally cast as Scrooge, a role which he had performed on radio each Christmas morning for several years, but ill-health prevented him from being in the production. It was he who suggested Reginald Owen for the part. Barrymore did not perform the radio version of A Christmas Carol in 1938 so that it would not interfere with the success of the picture, and he appeared in a special trailer for it called "A Fireside Chat with Lionel Barrymore" which was produced by Frank Whitbeck and directed by Edward L. Marin. An HR news item and the Var review note that M-G-M released 375 prints of the film, a record number, so that as many people as possible could see it during the Christmas season. An M-G-M production bulletin noted that it took Owen almost two hours each day in makeup to prepare for his role. Reviews noted that it was English actor Barry Mackay's first American role. NYT mentioned that the Radio City Music Hall showing of the film was preceded by a special holiday revue featuring the Vienna Boys Choir and the Walt Disney cartoon, "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood."
       There have been many adaptations of Dickens' story, beginning with a British short produced in 1901. There was an Edison short in 1911 and a feature length British version in 1914. A British version called Scrooge starring Sir Seymour Hicks was released in 1935. Perhaps the most famous version was the 1951 British film with Alistair Sim. Ronald Neame directed another British version called Scrooge , a musical starring Albert Finney, in 1970. A modernized variation of the story was the 1988 Paramount comedy called Scrooged starring Bill Murray.
       Several animated versions of the story have made, including the Walt Disney short cartoon adaptation, ^Mickey's Christmas Carol , released in 1983 and featuring the voices of Alan Young and Clarence Nash. In 2001, an animated version with live action was released under the title A Christmas Carol . The British-Germany co-production was directed by Jimmy T. Murakami and featured the voices of Simon Callow and Kate Winslet.
       In addition to films, there have been a number of radio and television adaptations of the Dickens story, among them a 1939 Mercury Theatre radio broadcast narrated by Orson Welles, a one hour ABC television production in 1954 with Fredric March and a 1988 Hallmark Hall of Fame production with George C. Scott. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Dec 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Dec 38
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 38
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 38
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 38
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
14 Dec 38
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
19 Nov 38
p. 56.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Dec 38
p. 49.
New York Times
23 Dec 38
p. 16.
Variety
14 Dec 38
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Fill-in asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Fill-in photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Character makeup created by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (London, 1843).
MUSIC
"Adeste Fidelis," traditional hymn.
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 December 1938
Production Date:
5 October--early November 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 December 1938
Copyright Number:
LP8482
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
69
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4884
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas Eve, in mid-nineteenth century London, the miserly, hardhearted Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his kindly nephew Fred who invites him to dinner with him and his fiancée Bess. Scrooge gruffly refuses, considering Christmas a humbug, and although he gives his underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit the day off, he later fires him when the meek Bob mistakenly pelts him with a snowball. Bob does not tell his family, though, and buys the family's hoped for Christmas feast. The Cratchits are happy, though poor, with their one sorrow the health of Tiny Tim, their crippled youngest child. As the Cratchits and Fred enjoy Christmas Eve, Scrooge goes to his empty house where he is visited by the chained shade of Jacob Marley, Scrooge's late partner, who warns Scrooge that he must change his ways. He also tells Scrooge that three ghosts will visit him that night. Scrooge disdains Marley's words until their visits. The first, the Spirit of Christmas Past, shows him his lonely childhood, the second, the Spirit of Christmas Present, shows him the happiness of Fred and the Cratchits. The third, the Spirit of Christmas Future, reveals to Scrooge his own mournerless death and the sadness following that of Tiny Tim. Though the shade does not speak, Scrooge pleads that he will change. When he awakens, he is a different man. He happily buys turkey and presents and gives generously to men collecting for the poor. He visits Fred and makes him his partner, then goes to the Cratchits' house where he gives them gifts, and promises Bob a raise. After vowing to keep the spirit ... +


On Christmas Eve, in mid-nineteenth century London, the miserly, hardhearted Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his kindly nephew Fred who invites him to dinner with him and his fiancée Bess. Scrooge gruffly refuses, considering Christmas a humbug, and although he gives his underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit the day off, he later fires him when the meek Bob mistakenly pelts him with a snowball. Bob does not tell his family, though, and buys the family's hoped for Christmas feast. The Cratchits are happy, though poor, with their one sorrow the health of Tiny Tim, their crippled youngest child. As the Cratchits and Fred enjoy Christmas Eve, Scrooge goes to his empty house where he is visited by the chained shade of Jacob Marley, Scrooge's late partner, who warns Scrooge that he must change his ways. He also tells Scrooge that three ghosts will visit him that night. Scrooge disdains Marley's words until their visits. The first, the Spirit of Christmas Past, shows him his lonely childhood, the second, the Spirit of Christmas Present, shows him the happiness of Fred and the Cratchits. The third, the Spirit of Christmas Future, reveals to Scrooge his own mournerless death and the sadness following that of Tiny Tim. Though the shade does not speak, Scrooge pleads that he will change. When he awakens, he is a different man. He happily buys turkey and presents and gives generously to men collecting for the poor. He visits Fred and makes him his partner, then goes to the Cratchits' house where he gives them gifts, and promises Bob a raise. After vowing to keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the year, he makes the toast, "To all of us, everywhere, a Merry Christmas to us all, my dears," and Tiny Tim adds "God bless us, everyone." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.