Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #15 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).
We're two weeks into Christmas in July so let's turn the heat up! All this week, let's look at especially creative examples of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in TV episodes in which characters have read Charles Dickens' book and look to influence someone else who needs inspired with the holiday spirit! This should be fun.
The earliest example of this Scrooge Treatment I've found on TV is in the 1965 episode "Mr. White's Christmas" in the series The Rogues. This charming drama series concerns itself with three aristocratic con men who embrace the credo "Honor before Honesty." The three leads Charles Boyer, David Niven and Gig Young often rotated the lead in episodes. The 1965 episode "Mr. White's Christmas" features Charles Boyer.
In this story, the confidence man Marcel St. Clair is called into action at Christmas when Mr. White acts like a scrooge, turning down sister Margaret’s request for a charitable donation to a home for wayward girls. St. Clair is joined by his associate Mark Fleming to gaslight the wealthy Horatio T. White into believing he is seeing the ghost of his former business partner, Mr. Farley. Turns out, Mr. White has some unresolved feelings of guilt for how poorly he’s provided for Farley’s surviving daughter Timothea--a diminutive woman they call ‘Tiny Tim.' So St. Clair and Fleming tap into those feelings in Mr. White in order to convince him to support the home for wayward girls. Here, the Rogues play out their own version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in order to persuade Mr. White to embrace a more generous Christmas spirit.
The cast includes Charles Boyer as Marcel St. Clair, Larry Hagman as Fleming, John McGiver as Mr. White, Gladys Cooper as Margaret St. Clair, and Jill Haworth as Timothea.
In this 1965 TV episode, the characters are familiar with Charles Dickens’ literary tale and try to manipulate a scrooge-like person into transforming themselves in the spirit of season. This self-aware version of “A Christmas Carol” usually sees a series’ main character posing as one (or more) Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. This interpretation of Dickens’ “Carol” is seen again and again in television Christmas stories. Let's look at more examples of this in the upcoming week.
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:
*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com