Wednesday, December 22, 2021

8 Adaptations of A Christmas Carol to Enjoy - 2021 Edition

RACKHAM, Arthur (1867-1939). Selling Scrooge's Things, Illustrations for Dickens' A Christmas Carol, 1915
 The following are adaptations of A Christmas Carol to enjoy this year, and/or look for in the near future. In other words, these are the adaptations that I, William Mortensen Vaughan, the Webmaster of am enjoying this year, and/or hope to enjoy SOON!

1. A Honeymooners Christmas Carol, starring Jackie Gleason

As a teen, I heard of Jackie Gleason, and I knew he was considered an excellent comedian, but I never watched "The Honeymooners." I had never heard of their adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which premiered November 28, 1977, until this year, when I noticed that it was going to be released on DVD, and I pre-ordered a copy. 

I'm glad I did! This is a unique, funny, nostalgic look at this classic. It's framed as a charity play directed by Jackie Gleason's bus-driving character, Ralph Kramden, in order to curry favor with his boss. Ralph's boss is played by Gale Gordon, who played various roles in film and television productions starring Lucille Ball, including "Life With Lucy," Lucy Calls the President [Jimmy Carter], "Here's Lucy," and "I Love Lucy." By the way, Jimmy Carter is not listed among the credits for Lucy Calls the President, but his mother, Lillian, plays herself.

The theatrical adaptation doesn't have any ghosts. Four actors, including Gleason, play five roles. Gleason plays Bob Cratchit. His character's wife, Alice, plays Bob's wife; his wife's best friend, Trixie, plays their daughter. Trixie's husband plays dual roles: Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge. A Town Crier and six Christmas Carolers also appear.

My favorite seen is back in the Kramden's Brooklyn, New York apartment, where I caught my first glimpse of an ice box, the precursor of the refrigerator. Although I have heard of ice boxes since I was a child, born (and raised primarily) in Utah, I have enjoyed the convenience of electric refrigerators all of my life, and had never actually seen one until I caught a glimpse of one in this film, which was released in 1977, when I was fifteen years old. 

2. Humbug: The Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge (A Science Fiction Adventure) (Claus Universe Book 4). WhisperSync enabled on AudibleAudible and Kindle

This legible, audible, and/or read-along adaptation is a modern, American take on Charles Dickens' classic novel, featuring androids and fashionistas in California. I bought the Audible and borrowed the Kindle version so I that I can follow along. I find this is the best way to enjoy books. That way, I can listen while I'm painting the side of my house, or doing other things, and, if I don't quite "catch" something, or I want to know how it's spelled, I can look at the Kindle version. With the magic of WhisperSync, the Kindle version scrolls along automatically as the recording of the narrator's voice reads the book out loud. I love it!

3. Spirited, starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds

As of October 30, 2021, the status of this production, on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), has been updated to "post production," and it's scheduled to be released in 2022.

This musical should be an epic adaptation. In addition to Will Ferrell, who played Santa's human Elf in Elf, and is currently among the Top 500 people listed on IMDb; and Ryan Reynolds, who, as of November 25, 2021, is listed as #6 among all of the people listed on IMDb - this film will also feature Aimee Carrero, who provided the voice of Elena in Disney's "Elena of Avalor." She's only listed among the Top 5,000 people on IMDb, but, since approximately ten million people (dead and alive, including gaffers, etc.) are listed on IMDb, that still puts her among the top five percent of the top one percent. To put that in perspective, Lucille Ball (see above) died in 1989, but remains among IMDb's Top 5,000.

4. Humbug, starring Ice Cube

The status of this film hasn't been updated on IMDb since May 8, 2017, and no year of release is projected. Ice Cube is the only actor listed on this film's IMDb page. I fear it has gone the way of Rust, albeit more quietly. Ice Cube is also among IMDb's Top 5,000.

5. A Christmas Carol (audible) narrated by Hugh Grant 

This audible adaptation was released December 21, 2020, and is "included" for "free" with an Amazon Audible Membership; it costs approximately $8 to $14. I haven't heard it yet, but look forward to it. Hugh Grant is another member of IMDb's prestigious Top 5,000.

6. Marley, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Bill Condon, and featuring music composed by Stephen Schwartz

This musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol is scheduled to be released in 2021! Unfortunately, it's status on IMDb hasn't been updated since October 29, 2019, and remains "announced," so I have my doubts about whether or not it's going to be released this year. While we're waiting, we can still watch Disney's previous adaptations, "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (1983); and A Christmas Carol (2009), which features the voices of Jim Carrey, another member of IMDb's prestigious Top 5,000.

7. A Christmas Cop, starring Daniel Stisen as Detective Sergeant Nils Scroogesen

The status of this film hasn't been updated since March 9, 2020, the week CoViD-19 changed our lives forever. Since that time, it's status has remained "Script," and no year of release is posted yet, on IMDb, so I have a feeling that this production has also quietly gone the way of Rust.

8.  A Christmas Carol: An Audio Advent Calendar, produced by the Merry Beggars at Relevant Radio

I had heard of Advent Calendars, but this is the first Audio Advent Calendar I'd ever heard of. Actually, I saw an ad for it on Instagram. They've been posting a portion of their audible adaptation of A Christmas Carol every day for three weeks already. It requires a free membership to log into their website. You can listen to any or all of the previously posted audibles in this series. They send you an e-mail notification each time they post another.

In this radio drama, complete with background music and sound effects, as well as a full cast, the Merry Beggars create a fictitious evening (spread over a month, in real time) in which Charles Dickens delivers his first public reading of his novel, A Christmas Carol, at the Victoria Theatre, on December 24, 1843. In reality, A Christmas Carol was first published on December 19, 1843, and every single one of those first 6,000 copies was sold by Christmas Day that year. However, the framework for this audible adaptation is anachronistic as well as fictitious, because Dickens didn't read any of his books publicly until December 3, 1844, when he read The Chimes at Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. His first public reading of A Christmas Carol was at the British Consulate in Genoa, in 1845. Also, the Victoria Palace Theatre wasn't opened until November, 1911.

Suspending belief in order to enjoy this adaptation is, in my humble opinion, well worth it, though. It's one of the most delightful adaptations that I've ever heard!

Blog post by William Mortensen Vaughan

No comments:

Post a Comment