About Christmas TV History

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Christmas in July 2023: Ebenezer (1998)


 Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #9 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies that are a creative or imaginative adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition will be released soon). 


Actor Jack Palance makes a wonderful Ebenezer Scrooge.


Today's discussion is on the 1998 feature-length drama Ebenezer starring Jack Palance. This cable TV movie is also a Western, making this familiar British tale particularly American. Jack Palance is perfectly cast as this story’s Scrooge, here a wealthy but greedy saloon owner. Cratchitt works for him tending bar. The story begins on Christmas Eve, with Ebenezer cheating at a poker game against Sam Benson in order to win all that Benson owns: his money, his land, and even his horse. The former saloon owner, the deceased Jacob Marlowe, comes to Ebenezer as a ghost to warn him about changing his fate. In the meantime, Benson discovers how Ebenezer has cheated at cards and challenges him to a shoot-out on Christmas day at noon in the street. 




On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer is visited by three ghosts. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a Native American girl, the Ghost of Christmas Present is a sheriff, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is a cloaked figure that shows him the following day’s gun fight in which the young Benson is killed. Ebenezer awakens on Christmas morning, beckoned to come to the street and draw his gun upon Benson.

The cast includes Jack Palance as Ebenezer Scrooge, Rick Schroder as Sam Benson, Albert Schultz as Bob Cratchitt, Richard Halliday as Jacob Marlowe, Daryl Shuttleworth as nephew Fred, and Amy Locane as Benson’s fiance Erica Marlowe.

The setting for this adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is the American West. For an earlier TV movie with an American setting--and a uniquely American capitalist take on charity--see my previous discussion on 1979's An American Christmas Carol linked HERE.


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

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