Saturday, December 26, 2015

'A Christmas Carol' Junkie

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour." ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Okay, so I’m a Scrooge junkie. I have every film adaptation ever made of the 1843 Dickens Classic “A Christmas Carol.” I watch them during the holidays and sometimes in June. My children make fun of my habit and call me the Yuletide Grinch. They say the storyline scares my youngest grandchildren.

My marathon usually begins with the 1934 version starring Lionel Barrymore; a gift from my youngest daughter in a Christmas paint can that also includes popcorn and a straight jacket, the 1938 version with Reginald Owen; the 1951 version with Alistair Sim; the 1970 musical with Albert Finney; the 1984 version with George C. Scott; the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart; the Henry Winkler rendition; and the whole laundry list of spoofs. I don’t watch the cartoons.

I don’t have a favorite, I like them all. I also have the audio book by Gerald Charles Dickens.

I actually met Gerald Charles Dickens at the Byers’ Choice doll factory when he did his one-man tour during the holidays a few years ago, and I got a book autographed. The tour was a tribute to his Great-Great Grandfather, Charles Dickens, who did his one-man show every Christmas in London, near the end of his lifetime (1812-1870).

I also collect first edition Byers’ Choice Christmas Carol dolls and have the 1870 Memorial Edition of Dickens' works.

Hooked? You bet!

The other day, one of my daughters called me.

“Hey Mom, the digital 3D Disney film, “A Christmas Carol,” is playing at the theatre. I know you don't have that one. Would you like to see it tomorrow?”

“Absolutely!” I answered. I thought the child had lost her mind, since she is the one, who has been harassing me for years about my Dickens collection.

Wow, I can feed my habit in 3D! I was champing at the bit.

“Who stars in the film?” I asked.

“Jim Carrey” she said. “But, it is partially animated, so he doesn’t look like himself."

“No problem,” I said. “You wouldn’t recognize Hermione Braddley when she played Mrs. Cratchit in the 1951 film either. She’s the actress, who also played Mrs. Naugatuck in “Maude.”

“Mrs. Naugatuck? No, I wouldn’t, mom, that was way before my time.”

She had to rub that in, right?

“What time should I meet you there?” I asked.

“Come over for lunch and we’ll go to the early show.”

I had a feeling that she didn’t want her friends catching her going to the theatre to see Scrooge with her mother. I had that marathon reputation, after all. It was well-known throughout the entire Northeast Philadelphia area, most of the graduating classes at Archbishop Ryan High School and Penn State.

"Psst! They're having another Scrooge marathon at the Valenta's after the Capital One Bowl."

The theatre had about six different films showing, including "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - a risk of getting caught after the 6:20 pm showing. So, I agreed and we went early.

We got our tickets, 3D glasses, and 5 pounds of theatre popcorn with extra butter. We were happening!

"Mom, I hate to tell you about all the bad chemicals that are in that popcorn, including beta-carotene," my daughter said. "Take an extra garlic capsule for your cholesterol and don't inhale directly over the container."

Do you see a role reversal evolving here? I ate most of the popcorn.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was true to Dickens’ original 1843 story, and had a unique quality as well. Jim Carrey had several different roles: Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. However, the credits were longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls. I always look at all the credits, to her, another one of my quirks. That took another 15 minutes.

We kept the stealth dark 3D glasses on, until we left the theatre parking lot.