The time has finally come. Up at the North Pole, Santa is warming up the reindeer for the journey ahead. And poor Mr. Cratchit is freezing in the office of Scrooge and Marley. Fear not, redemption is close at hand. It’s time for one more look at the classic Charles Dickens tale as we wrap up our 3rd Annual Countdown to Christmas.
We jump ahead to 1971 for one of my longtime favorite versions. Made for ABC television, this animated classic featured Ken Harris (How The Grinch Stole Christmas!) as master animator and Looney Tunes legend Chuck Jones as executive producer. Visually, the animation is stunning and very sophisticated, inspired by the original 19th century illustrations by John Leech and Milo Winter. It is a very dark and scary presentation, making it truly one of the most horrific adaptations of this tale. It is greatly enhanced by Alastair Sim and Michael Hordern reprising their roles as Scrooge and Marley from the 1951 classic film. Hearing their voices takes me back to my favorite film version, which I admit may very well influence my opinion on this film.
While the story is condensed at 25 minutes, it more than makes up for it in quality. In fact, it was considered so good that it was then released theatrically and went on to win the 1972 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. I have fond memories of watching this on TV in the 70s and rediscovering it in 2002.
This was released on VHS briefly in the 1990s, so seek that out if you can find a copy. There is a DVD version for sale on Amazon but it appears to be a bootleg copy, so buyer beware as this film has never been officially released on DVD. However, it is on YouTube and I cannot recommend you watch this version enough.
And there you go. Our countdown has ended. We’ve been dealt a murdering Santa Claus, a maniac in the attic, a nightmarish children’s flick and the Devil himself. And, as always, we have to see what Scrooge is up to. Now, it’s time for family, presents under the tree and a glass of egg nog as I get nestled in for a long winter’s nap before Santa comes down the chimney. Merry Christmas to you and yours from the Monster Movie Kid!