Of the many film versions of a Christmas Carol, the version starring Alastair Sim is easily the best. (Watch the whole film here)* His mixture of humor and pathos, along with classical acting chops, makes his the best Scrooge of all the film versions. When I read A Christmas Carol, I see Alastair Sim. When I see Alastair Sim in other movies, I think “what is Ebeneezer Scrooge doing in this film?” His is the definitive version, the standard against which all others are measured, and all others are found lacking.
I just saw the 1938 version with Reginald Owen. It was good, but he was not as natural playing Scrooge as Sim was. There was too much ‘acting’ going on for me to get lost in the movie. I have the same complaint with the version that starred Patrick Stewart a few years ago. I like Patrick Stewart, but his portrayal of Scrooge is just a showcase for his acting skills, almost as if he figures there is no way he will ever be allowed to play King Lear on American television, so he might as well stretch out with the role of Scrooge.
How long before Kenneth Branagh does a version? Ewan MacGregor is too young and too Scottish, and Hugh Grant is too much of whoopsie to pull it off, but Branagh could do it, and do it well. Gary Oldman would just scare the kiddies shitless, so he is out as Scrooge, although he could play Marley’s Ghost in the Branagh version. Add Alan Rickman as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Brian Blessed as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Hugo Weaving as the Ghost of Christmas Future (He did just fine hiding his face in V for Vendetta, so he could do this Ghost) Alan Cummings as Bob Cratchit, with as special appearance by Stephen Hawking as Tiny Tim, and we have ourselves one hell of a film. This needs to happen.