Advent Calendar 2017! - Day 3



Version: A Christmas Carol, Episode 4 of Shower of Stars (1954, dir. Ralph Lavy)

Today's version of the Scrooge/urchin scene comes from an American anthology series called Shower of Stars which ran on CBS in the mid to late 50s. Unfortunately, this one is a bit of a let down. Everything we've come to expect from the scene is there, but it's far too short; Scrooge does not ask the urchin to buy the turkey nor is the urchin given any personality. The urchin doesn't question why anyone could not know the date, as is standard for adaptations of this scene. Normally I would praise the adaptation for doing something differently but rather than making changes to the standard, this scene just takes material from the original away without replacing it with anything. The urchin's scepticism is removed and instead of replacing it with another interesting interpretation of the urchin's personality, he is left as a blank slate with far fewer lines and a pretty bland British street urchin accent. The only noteworthy thing about this urchin is the style of his cap. Yes, I am hugely satisfied by its size (as we all know, the quality of a good urchin cap is how ridiculously big it looks in comparison to the urchin's head) but making it hard with a rim instead of a soft flat cap takes something away from the comic nature of it. Not as entertaining as some previous urchin caps we've looked at. All in all, just a very disappointing urchin in this version.

This Scrooge, played by Fredric March, gives a good reaction to the date. It's quite subtle but that's really what this scene calls for. The use of a balcony rather than simply a window is a nice change of setting, but it has the effect of emphasising the power imbalance between the urchin and Scrooge, especially with the way in which Scrooge is framed as being much more central and face-on in comparison to the urchin, who is ever so slightly off balance, perhaps to convey the shock of the question. The big problem with this scene though is it just isn't long enough. Ralph Lavy has chosen to abridge what was already a very short (but pivotal) scene in the original novella to fit the hour-long slot Shower of Stars was given, and as a result I don't feel fulfilled by it. I'd say CBS should have been more lax in their scheduling to allow the full dramatic resonances of the Scrooge/urchin scene to play out.

Framing 6 out of 10.
Scrooge's Reaction To The Date 7 out of 10.
Urchin Accent 2 out of 10.
Window Height 7 out of 10.
Scrooge Nightgown Quality 6 out of 10.
Urchin Cap Quality 6 out of 10.
Final Score 5.7 out of 10. It's okay, but the scene is far too short and the urchin isn't comical enough for it to really make an impression.