Scrooge is a 1935 British Christmas fantasy film directed by Henry Edwards and starring Seymour Hicks, Donald Calthrop and Robert Cochran. Hicks appears as Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser who hates Christmas. It was the first sound version of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, not counting a 1928 short subject that now appears to be lost. Hicks had previously played the role of Scrooge on the stage many times beginning in 1901, and again in a 1913 British silent film version. Original release date: November 26, 1935
Stylistically this film leans heavily towards German Expressionism and the films of Fritz Lang, involving dark shadows and darkened edges.
The script sticks very closely to Dickens’ words.
It is Christmas Eve of 1843: Ebenezer Scrooge (Sir Seymour Hicks), a cold-hearted and greedy elderly money-lender, is working in his freezing counting house along with his suffering, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit (Donald Calthrop). Two businessmen (Charles Carson and Hubert Harben) arrive to collect a donation for the poor, but the old man responds that prisons and workhouses are sufficient resources to deal with poor people. Scrooge catches Bob trying to take some coal but warns him he will be out of a job if he does not go back to work. A visit from Fred (Robert Cochran), Scrooge’s nephew and sole living relative, only incites further annoyance, with Scrooge refusing to dine with him and his wife, and claiming Christmas is ‘Humbug!’.
That night after work, Bob goes home to celebrate the holidays with his family while Scrooge dines alone at a seedy pub while the lords and ladies of London celebrate Christmas with the Lord Mayor of London. At home, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his seven-year dead partner Jacob Marley (Claude Rains – whose voice is only heard) who wears a chain he ‘forged in life’ from his own wicked career. He tells Scrooge he will be haunted by three spirits in order to escape his fate.
That night, as Marley warned, Scrooge is haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Marie Ney), who shows Scrooge when he lost his fiancée due to his greedy nature towards others including a debt-ridden couple. Scrooge then sees that his ex-fiancée Belle (Mary Glynne) is now married and has many children.
The next sprit, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Oscar Asche), shows Scrooge just how poor Bob and his family are as they have a meagre Christmas dinner of goose and pudding. The spirit threatens that unless the future changes, Tiny Tim (Philip Frost), the youngest son, who is ill, will die. Scrooge then sees how others keep Christmas before seeing Fred celebrate with his wife and friends.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (C.V. France) shows Scrooge what lies in store the following year. Scrooge discovers Tim is dead and that the man that was robbed and spoken of by some businessmen was himself after seeing his grave.
Scrooge returns a changed and generous person. He orders a turkey for Bob and his family, gives a healthy donation to the two men from the day before and dines with Fred. Scrooge raises Bob’s wages and gives him the day off, telling him that he will be a godfather to Tim before the two attend church together. The congregation sing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing as they enter.
Directed by Henry Edwards
Screenplay by H. Fowler Mear
Based on A Christmas Carol 1843 novella by Charles Dickens
Produced by Julius Hagen
Sir Seymour Hicks as Ebenezer Scrooge
Donald Calthrop as Bob Cratchit
Robert Cochran as Fred
Mary Glynne as Belle
Garry Marsh as Belle’s husband
Oscar Asche as Spirit of Christmas Present
Marie Ney as Spirit of Christmas Past (physical outline only)
C.V. France as Spirit of Christmas Future
Athene Seyler as Scrooge’s charwoman
Maurice Evans as Poor man
Mary Lawson as Poor man’s wife
Barbara Everest as Mrs. Cratchit
Eve Gray as Fred’s wife
Morris Harvey as Poulterer with Prize Turkey
Philip Frost as Tiny Tim
D.J. Williams as Undertaker
Margaret Yarde as Scrooge’s laundress
Hugh E. Wright as Old Joe
Charles Carson as Middlemark
Hubert Harben as Worthington
Claude Rains as Jacob Marley (voice, uncredited)
Robert Morley as Rich man (uncredited)