About Christmas TV History

Friday, October 7, 2011

Merry Halloween! Scrooge in Hell

I'm continuing my countdown to Halloween covering scary, creepy and Halloween-appropriate Christmas entertainments.

Have you checked out what other cool bloggers are writing about during the month of October?  Please feel free to click on the Cryptkeeper link on the righthand side of this blog to go to a HUGE list of other blogs. It's a Halloween blog hop!  hosted by CountdowntoHalloween.com

Have you ever watched the 1970 British movie musical Scrooge?  With music and lyrics written by Leslie Bricusse, both the score and the song "Thank You Very Much" from this movie were nominated for Academy Awards that year.  The music and lyrics were written by Leslie Bricusse, the same man who went on to write the music for the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryScrooge stars Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge and Alec Guinness as the Ghost of Jacob Marley.

Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge

I point out 1970's Scrooge at Halloween because this particular adaptation of the popular Christmas story includes an incredible scene of substantial length.  During his journey with the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come, Scrooge takes a trip to HELL!

Spirit, what is to become of me?

Ebenezer literally stumbles into his own open grave.


There's a signpost up ahead. Next stop: HELL!

Panaramic view of Hell's stalactites and stalagmites lined with sad faces.

"Help me Jacob Marley, you're my only hope!"

After falling down into the depth of Hell, Scrooge is relieved to see a familiar face: his old friend and business partner, Jacob Marley.  Marley welcomes Scrooge to his final destination (mwuh--hahahaha!) and shows him his office.  He's been given the job as personal clerk to Lucifer!

A new office? how shall I decorate?

Marley takes him in his office and warns him about the rats!  He's also been denied heat in his office, just as he denied heat to Cratchit serving as his personal clerk.  (Karma is a bitch).  Next, Scrooge's chains are delivered--they took extra long to forge.

This photo is not taken from an Erasure music video.  Scrooge's chains are delivered by Human Resources

Scrooge's chains in the afterlife are choking him...

Wrapped in his bed linens, Scrooge finally awakens from his nightmare!

After Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning, he finds he's had a change of heart and sets out to buy a Christmas turkey for the Cratchits before joining his nephew Fred for a meal.

I find this interpretation of Scrooge's journey an interesting one.  (A trip to Hell is not in the original manuscript as written by Charles Dickens).  While I find the frightening imagery and the threat of eternity spent working for Lucifer a thrilling addition to the story, I don't think it fits the point intended by Dickens.  I believe Dickens created Scrooge's transformation as one to be motivated by reciprocity and a recognition that his wealth will do him no good after death.  As if Scrooge learns "you can't take it with you" rather than "for the wages of sin is death."  It's a more subtle turn for Scrooge to recognize and appreciate what good his money can do for others rather than change his mind about his greediness because he fears eternal damnation.  Certainly, Dickens was clever enough to consider writing it that way if he so wanted.  But I think he preferred the more subtle character change.  I think we all do.  Even if it is entertaining to see Scrooge in HELL!

Check it out: Scrooge is available on DVD and is easy to find each December airing on television.


  1. I really like the hell scene. I think it's a great addition by Leslie Bricusse , much like the scene he created for the Boat Trip in Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. I always watch it at Christmas, and cry my eyes out over it. It makes me appreciate life so much more.

  2. Brilliant movie! At first i thought i wouldn't like it as a musical but i was so wrong!

  3. I watched this film when in was released in 1970, when I was 10, in the theater. Many parts scared me a great deal. I loved the film, however, and my family would watch it every Christmas when it was broadcast on TV for years. Unfortunately, when Ted Turner got a hold of it, and the rights to it, some of the most intense bits were permanently cut out of the film, and I have never found them (or any reference to them) again. In particular, a scene from the book, where Marley is trying to convince Scrooge that he is 'real' and not an hallucination, he unwraps the bandage under his chin, and his jaw falls to his chest, in a great bit of special effects work. Gone forever, I guess. Terrifying, sure!!....? Also, in the 'invented' scene in Hell, Marley's parting words to Scrooge are 'Beware the rats, they like to nibble!' The camera then pans down to show rats indeed swarming and starting to chew on Scrooge's legs! Also permanently cut from any existing copies of the film. I've searched every video tape issue, even the old Laserdisc version. Too bad! I would love to see these restored!

    1. I have the DVD--which is wholly unedited. All of those scenes are completely intact!

  4. I have the DVD--which is wholly unedited. All of those scenes are completely intact!