Christmas Movies II

film 4 of 25


Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 11, 2015

What with the warm mythological haze of childhood ritual—this version, every Christmas Eve, from memory’s advent to this sad exile in the soul-chilling USA—it’s hard to bring any kind of proper critical perspective to this property. Well—maybe not hard, but I just don’t want tae. Yes, there’s a little bit of poverty in the production, or at least the tightened belt of post-war austerity. (It’s also badly in need of a proper restoration.) Some of the casting falls a bit short. A couple of sequences don’t quite come off. It’s the same with the source, isn’t it? (Tiny Tim is an effective conceit, and a great reproof, and kind of all wet.) But if this hastily assembled little seasonal novella isn’t quite Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend, it’s still got more fierceness and majesty and tenderness than you can ever exhaust, contain, or apply. By accident maybe, and out of his own childhood sorrows, as well as his own imperfect, striving discipleship, Dickens fashioned something for the ages. A sinner, repents!

As for the film, because of the source (get a load of that language!), because of its own modest, craftsman’s qualities, not to mention the contributions of grand/parents and siblings and native soil, it stands more or less impervious. “Fan!” Alastair Sim is a genius. And for some reason that little fragment of “Barbara Allen,” especially at the start of the harmonies on that second verse, is overwhelming. Death. After?