A Christmas Carol

Critics Consensus

The 1951 adaptation of Charles Dickens' timeless classic is perhaps the most faithful film version -- and Alastair Sim's performance as Scrooge is not to be missed.



Total Count: 34


Audience Score

User Ratings: 53,499
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Movie Info

Widely considered to be the definitive of the many film versions of Charles Dickens' classic novel is this 1951 British adaptation, starring Alastair Sim (entitled "Scrooge" in its U.K. release). Sim plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a London miser who, despite his wealth, refuses to make charitable contributions and treats his sole employee, Bob Cratchit, as an indentured servant. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, who was as selfish as Scrooge in life and has been condemned to an eternity of wandering the Earth in shackles. Marley informs Scrooge that he's to receive a trio of spirits that night who will take him on a journey through Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. As Scrooge encounters each apparition, he is taken on a tour of his life and realizes what a wretch he is, transformed by greed from an idealistic youth into an embittered ogre. Infused with a new, cheery outlook, Scrooge sets about earning his redemption. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi


Alastair Sim
as Ebenezer Scrooge
Kathleen Harrison
as Mrs. Dilber
Mervyn Johns
as Bob Cratchit
Hermione Baddeley
as Mrs. Cratchit
Michael Hordern
as Jacob Marley
John Charlesworth
as Peter Cratchit
Glyn Dearman
as Tiny Tim
George Cole
as Scrooge as young man
Carol Marsh
as Fan Scrooge's Sister
Olga Edwardes
as Fred's Wife
Roddy Hughes
as Mr. Fezziwig
Hattie Jacques
as Mrs. Fezziwig
Clifford Mollison
as Mr. Wilkins
Michael Dolan
as Ghost of Christmas Past
Francis De Wolff
as Ghost of Christmas Present
C. Konarski
as Ghost of Christmas Future
Ernest Thesiger
as Undertaker
Louise Hampton
as Laundress
Noel Howlett
as First Collector
Fred Johnson
as Collector
Peter Bull
as First Businessman
Douglas Muir
as Businessman
Henry Hewitt
as Rosehed
Patrick Macnee
as Young Jacob Marley
Jack Warner
as Mr. Jorkins
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Critic Reviews for A Christmas Carol

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for A Christmas Carol

  • Dec 10, 2018
    With so many adaptation of A Christmas Carol out there, when looking at all of them the real question is "what did this one do different?" or "how did these actors read the lines?". Well, to the first question, in this version we get a lot more backstory of Scrooge, showing a businessman taking him under his wing and corrupting him and slowly turning him towards a life of greed. On the one hand, it's hard for me not to see this as the canonical version of Scrooge's life now, even if it wasn't in the book. On the other hand, I really didn't need to see it, and it makes the Christmas past part of the story take up way too much of the screen time. As to the actors, a lot of them are some of the best performers of the material. This is our best Marley, probably our best of the spirits, and in my opinion our best Scrooge. The way Alastair Sim can act so much with just his massive eyes really brings you into the story. That being said, I do wish we saw more of his reactions. It's for this reason I'm beginning to see that stage adaptations of A Christmas Carol may be where itï¿ 1/2(TM)s most at home, where we can constantly see Scrooge reacting to the acts before him, which is really the entire point of the story. All in all, this is definitely one of the better, if not the best adaptation of this story. I can't call it perfect, but then I have a great fondness for this story so I hold it to a pretty high bar. Still, they do a pretty damn good job overall.
    Michael M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2012
    It's a classic. The performances are wonderful and the atmosphere is suitably eerie and memorable. It loses a few points, though, for dragging in the middle, but besides a dip in energy, the film still resonates with all who see it as a beautiful and timeless achievement.
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2012
    Amongst the many 'classic' adaptations of the famous story, the Alistair Sim is probably the most recognizable of the Christmas Carols over the years. It goes beyond the Dickens story with some new subplots that are often thought to be part of the story. it shows more of Scrooge as a younger man, and his rise in the business. Some of the characters, such as Scrooge's fiancee are renamed, but the story remains the same, and the Ghost of Christmas Past is returned to the more traditional creature of Dickens story. Also restored are some of the spookier elements of the book, such as the scenes following Scrooge's 'death' that he views, and the sale of his property by the den of thieves. Sim is effective in his transformation from vicious and miserly to reformed and happy, and its probably on this performance alone that the film has had lasting fame. His delivery of the classic lines before during and after his visits is spot-on, and in my view stage-like but memorable. The other characters also come off well, including the Fezziwigs. Watch for a very young Patrick Macnee (later of The Avengers fame) in the Young Marley flashback.
    Mark K Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2011
    The best version of them all? I'm not sure; further deeper exploration is needed still (animated versions included), but the performances are superb, Alastair is almost iconic and it is magically filmed. It doesn't reach the high level of a classic Dickens' adaptation by Lean, but this is definitely the best version I've seen so far (24 Dec. 2011). Just for the record, it is technically impressive and effectively creepy, too. Humbug! 86/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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