Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Wonderful World of TCM: Carol for Another Christmas (1964)

There is a reason I am not writing this until a week after Christmas, and it's not that I was too lazy the holiday week. And the one after that. Well, not only that.

I didn't want to sully the Xmas season with a dose of "Bah, humbug!" You see, somehow, Carol for Christmas, despite an all-star cast and pedigree, is not a great watch. Oh, it's worth seeing, of course, and all praise to our true Santa, Turner Classic Movies, for showing it, but once is enough for me.

This TV special aired December 28, 1964 on ABC and was part of a series of specials sponsored by Xerox promoting the United Nations. Wait, December 28? Hey, what a great time to air a reworking of A Christmas Carol, right--3 days after the holiday. Almost like writing a post about it two weeks--uh, never mind.

Produced and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz and written by Rod Serling, the special comes off like pure propaganda. I mean, I won't complain about, say, dramatizing the horrors of Hiroshima, but the screenplay shows off the didactic side of Serling. It goes out of its way to promote ingternational cooperation at the expense of storytelling, and I think the agenda-pushing would work much better in a 30-minute format than in this feature-length scenario.

Still, it's Serling, it's atmospheric, and it features an outstanding cast led by Sterling Hayden as the Scrooge (Daniel Grudge here). I could go on about the plot and other production details, but I found an interesting article on TCM that says it all, so just head there, and I will share some screencaps.

Among the standouts: Ben Gazarra, Steve Lawrence, Eva Marie Saint, Pat Hingle, Angry Mob, and Peter Sellers (himself fresh off a massive heart attack):


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