Blu-ray Review “A Christmas Carol (1951)”

Actors: Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Jack Warner, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley
Directors: Brian Desmond Hurst
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: VCI Entertainment
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Run Time: 86 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

When you think about “A Christmas Carol”, you think about Alastair Sim portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge.  It is one of the times and will always be one of my personal favorites.  The Charles Dickens’ story in general is my favorite Christmas tale, in general though.  Thanks to VCI, yet again, for keeping this classic alive and delivering a release that complements this wonderful film. This Blu-ray edition has been digitally restored with a new 1080p, 24fps high definition transfer master produced from the 35mm negative and fine grain.  The film couldn’t look any better.  There are two audio tracks included. The original LPCM Mono track, which I prefer and then the upgraded LPCM 5.1, which I feel doesn’t really suit the film and its time.  I look forward to sharing this film with my daughter as she grows and she will get to experience it in it’s wonderful presentation here.

Official Synopsis: Alastair Sim’s tour-de-force performance as the ultimate miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, has almost single-handedly made this beloved version of Charles Dickens’ story into one of the best-loved Christmas films of all time. Some of Britain’s best filmmakers united behind Sim, who was joined by a delightful cast of accomplished and acclaimed English actors; creating what many today believe to be the best and most faithful production of Dickens’ immortal tale. Cranky and curmudgeonly Scrooge learns the error of his unkind ways and is taught the true meaning of the holidays when he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner and the spirits of Christmas past, present and future.

This 2012 release comes in a combo pack with both the Blu-ray and DVD of the film.  The film is packed with some wonderful extras on both the Blu-ray and DVD. Let’s start with the DVD, which besides including the film in standard definition includes exclusive extras which are not on the Blu-ray.  The first is “Campbell Playhouse: A Christmas Carol”, which is the original 1939 radio dramatization that is narrated by Orson Welles and stars Lionel Barrymore.  This is a real treat for sure.  Lastly, there is a Biblographic Essay from Fred Guida on the film, which has such a vibrant history.

The special features on the Blu-ray are also extremely impressive and all presented in HD (which is shocking). There is an decent length introduction from Leonard Maltin. “Dead to Begin With: The Darker Side of a Classic” is a 30-minute feature with commentary by Sir Christopher Frayling talking about the production during the post-World War II era. “Scrooge by Another Name: Distributing A Christmas Carol” is look into the life of Richard Gordan, the distributor for Renown Pictures. “The Human Blarney Stone: Life and Films of Brian Desmond Hurst” is career retro wiht great-great nephew Allan Esler Smith. Alastair Sim Version: Too Good to be Shown only at Christmastime” is a chat about the film with Fred Guida, author of “A Christmas Carol and it’s Adaptions” Lastly, “Silent Dickens” is a collection of Dickens’ silent work from 1922 now in HD, “Scrooge” and “Bleak House”. There are some features missing from last year’s 60th Anniversary release including the trailers, a featurette “Scrooge Revisited”, the commentary track from Marcus Hearn and George Cole and the Reproduction of the American Pressbook insert.

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