A Christmas Carol (1938 film)/Debate Guide
Critics, professional and fan alike, enjoy many (usually friendly) arguments over the relative merits and problems with differing performance versions of A Christmas Carol. A discussion of those pertaining to the 1938 film follows. Warning: The discussion contains spoilers!
Departures from the novel
- Ann Rutherford, makes a young and extremely beautiful Ghost of Christmas Past, and the only female one (the outline of actress Marie Ney was used in the 1935 version, but an uncredited male actor supplied the ghost's voice). While most people usually praise her acting and her looks, the "gender bender" is too much for some.
- Scrooge's nephew, Fred, is portrayed as still being engaged to his beloved; in the novella and in most film versions they are already married. The romance is greatly built up in this version; some people cheer the addition, others decry it.
- Scrooge fires Cratchit on Christmas Eve in this version.
- Fred, his fiancee, and Scrooge make a surprise visit to the Cratchits, laden with toys and gifts on Christmas Day; Scrooge has made his nephew his business partner.
- Most agree that the leaving out of some of the scarier and more sombre moments in the book is this version's drawback, others appreciate the light and genial quality.
Consistencies with the novel not seen in other versions
- Scrooge's sister is correctly portrayed as younger, though she is misnamed "Fran" rather than "Fan". Her death is left out of this version.
- When Marleys' ghost appears, Scrooge calls for "The Watch" (constables).
- Reginald Owens's makeup is a great source of irritation for some
- Gene Lockhart is too plump, Kathleen Lockhart too cheerful, and Terry Kilburn too old and sturdy to convey the misery of the Cratchits.