A Christmas Carol (1938) directed by Edwin L. Marin, based on the novel by Charles Dickens, written for the screen by Hugo Butler.
Starring: Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge
Reginald Owen was not set to play this part until this long time friend Lionel Barrymore had to cancel his part as Scrooge because of sickness. Fate had other plans it seems.
We all know the story, mean man Scrooge humbugs his way through life, eschewing Christmas as if it was a nagging sore that rooted itself more deeply each year that he could not get away from. It seems everyone was celebrating this holiday called Christmas, with global cheer and good will for everyone under the moonlight. Scrooge, who had been bittered and shriveled through a life without love, and without forgiveness was a man of business, of rules, and of ascetic necessity. He did not know happiness and he wished that anyone he came across would keep the optimism away from him, especially a man he worked for named Bob Cratchit, played wonderfully by Gene Lockhart (whom made this film with his wife and daughter).
Bob Cratchit counted on Scrooge for his survival as well as his family. Bob oozed with altruism and obsequiousness, and Scrooge knew this, turning his blind eye to it as much as he could till one a Christmas Eve Bob, having fun with the local kids, unintentionally threw a glittering white snowball at Scrooge as he passed, and upon finding this out Scrooge fired him. Cratchit walked home that night on Christmas Eve holding his dignity in his hand and left his confidence in the melting snow that was stepped on by Scrooge himself. He wanted this night to be a night for his children and family, selflessly not revealing to them what had happened just moments prior.
Everyone who is a fan of Charles' Dickens A Christmas Carol knows how the story plays out, with some tweaks in different film adaptations here and there, knowing the moral that Scrooge learns at the end of this fateful Christmas night.
What I find different in this film than all the others out there is the characters that are portrayed wonderful by the cast of actors here. Scrooge is a bitter, curt, presumptuously crass old man, and Reginald Owen has this look on his face. He grumbles his way through the night and humbugs all who try to help him. You can see the years of misery on his face and as the ghosts progress through the night you can sense and see the gradual inclination towards redemption and hope that he expresses with nothing but a slight opening of an eye that had been squinted from a life of lost passion and lost love, and a stream of a tear down his left eye. I like how Owen grows as the film goes on and we see this happening before our eyes as the audience and I don't think it has been matched sense. Owen makes the film for me and till this day I have not been filled with as much saving grace for this character than the 1938's version of Ebenezer Scrooge. It is my definitive version and hopefully with a little Christmas cheer, will be yours for years to come in this ageless timeless film.