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Mainstream - A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim

A Christmas Carol Ultimate Collector's Edition
Alastair Sim, Jack Warner, Mervyn Johns
Directed by Brian Desmond Hurt
Digitally restored Black and White
Widescreen or Full Screen
Colorized version included as bonus
Scrooge (1935) included as bonus
Lots of other goodies
VCI Entertainment 2007

VCI Entertainment brings out all the bells, whistles, kerflumpflumps, and whichydoodas in its Alastair Sim A Christmas Carol DVD set appropriately called the Ultimate Collector's Edition.. This 2 DVD set is an absolute must for any fan of this Charles Dickens story. The A Christmas Carol DVD set includes a brilliantly restored version of the 1951 Xmas classic you can watch in either 4X3 or 16X9m. A viewer can also choose between the original stereo version and the Dolby 5.1 remix that really adds to the ghostly noises Ebenezer Scrooge hears. If that is not enough, a second DVD includes the colorized version of Alastair Sim A Christmas Carol and the 1935 Scrooge starring Sir Seymour Hicks. If that is still not enough, and now fans of this Christmas classic are really getting spoiled, there is audio commentary by George Cole (Young Scrooge), three short featurettes, the original American and British trailers, subtitles you can actually read, and a narrative for the blind track. Aside from having a cast perform in your living room, I fail to see what else a fan would want.

To be honest, when it comes to Christmas I kind of root for Scrooge and the Grinch and am always slightly disappointed when they get their requisite change of heart. This however did not stop me from very much enjoying A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. Some movie classics are considered so because a couple of egghead critics deem it so but this is not the case here.

What makes this A Christmas Carol DVD a classic, aside from Sim's subdued performance (Scrooge is one of the ultimate scene chewing characters if the director lets it happen and something Michael Hordern as Marley does here) is all the little details, the little scenes that say so much without any words. A personal favorite is early on in the movie when Tim is looking at the toy display in the shop window. Almost immediately after that there is a nice little bit when a blind beggar immediately moves out of the way when he sees Ebenezer Scrooge coming his way. Of course, nothing beats Sim's performance as the renewed Scrooge when he wakes up after his visions.

The special effects are pretty good too. Not much willing suspension of disbelief is needed from a modern audience to enjoy this Christmas DVD. The colorized version on DVD 2 does add a bit there but this movie is better in the original black and white.

A Christmas Carol The Ultimate Collector's Edition includes, on a second DVD, the colorized version of the movie in mono or stereo. This is not a restored version so it is a little dusty at times and the colorization process, though pretty good, makes everything a little too pastellish to my taste. Colorization also takes much away from the graveyard scene near the end of the movie.

The 1935 Scrooge starring Sir Seymour Hicks is included here as a bonus and curiosity so the movie is not restored. It certainly is grainy but this improves after Marley's ghost shows up. At 60 minutes, it eliminates a few scenes from Christmas Past such as Scrooge's childhood and days working for Fezzywig.

As for the restored version, it is almost perfect. If you listen to this classic in Dolby 5.1 there is a bit of hiss behind the music that plays when Tiny Tim looks in the toy store window. Also the scene where Scrooge, accompanied by the spirit of Christmas future looks in the Cratchit home does strobe a bit at the beginning. Otherwise, it is about as perfect as it could possibly be.

Also reviewed here:

Jonathan Winters performs A Christmas Carol CD

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