A look back at ten performances that helped turn Dickens seminal skinflint into a seasonal holiday tradition.
In a literary catalog that contains such brilliant masterworks as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations, Charles Dickens remains best known for his early novella A Christmas Carol. A standard morality tale about mending one's ways and enjoying the true pleasures in life, the famed author used the brief book as a means of doing what he did best - commenting on class, championing the poor, and deconstructing the severe social stigmas of his viable Victorian age. Though he would come up with far more complicated expressions of his views, A Christmas Carol's seemingly simplistic message continues to resonate, even 160 years after it was originally written.
Of course, it helps that Dickens created a classic antagonist/protagonist with the character of miserly moneylender Ebenezer Scrooge. Like Shakespeare's Hamlet, the author forged a part so palpable that, immediately upon publication, actors were lining up to play the role. A Christmas Carol was such a huge hit that stage adaptations and other theatrical versions immediately sprang up - each with its own unique interpretation of the main role. In fact, Scrooge has become such a symbol of the holiday 'spirit' that we seemingly get new versions of the tale every year. From female-ccentric takes to radical rethinkings, A Christmas Carol always manages to maintain its timelessness.
Now, with Disney's 3D update starring Jim Carrey hitting DVD and Blu-ray (16, November), we can look back over the years and reflect on some of the more memorable interpretations of the character. While the computer-generated aspects of this latest update definitely help its viability, there's still something to be said of an actual human being bringing the role to life, beginning with one of the most unusual...and best:
Albert Finney in Scrooge (1970)
Jim Backus as Quincy Magoo in Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (TV/1962)
Reginald Owen in A Christmas Carol (1938)
Alastair Sim in Scrooge (1951)
Bill Murray as Frank Cross in Scrooged (1988)
Michael Caine in A Muppet's Christmas Carol (1992)
Rowan Atkinson as Ebenezer Blackadder in A Blackadder Christmas Carol (TV/1988)
Patrick Stewart in A Christmas Carol (Stage/1991)
George C. Scott in A Christmas Carol (TV/1984)
Jim Carrey in A Christmas Carol (2009)