Sunday, December 23, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: Carol for Another Christmas

Directed by :          Joseph L. Mankiewitz
Written by:             Rod Serling, Charles Dickens
Cast:                      Sterling Hayden, Peter Sellers, Eva Marie Saint, Ben Gazzara, Steve Lawrence

I make it a policy not to review made-for-television movies.  For the most part, I wonder what on Earth we have cable for. It's hundreds of channels full of shopping networks, talking heads, and insulting reality programs.

Then, we find a gem which makes the month's payment worthwhile.  In this case, TCM did the second airing for this amazing film twice this Christmas season. 

Carol for Another Christmas was originally funded by the Xerox Corporation in support of the United Nations.  It aired once December 1964 and hadn't seen the light of day since. 

Pity.  We needed to see this film. 

The essential plot:  Ben Grudge is a wealthy man who lives in isolation after the death of his twenty-two-year-old son Marley on Christmas Eve twenty years before. (WWII)  His choice to block the cultural exchange of a Polish professor from a US university triggers the visitation of three ghosts that Christmas Eve. 

Grudge is the kind of man who believes we should all stay on our own sides of the fence. Every twenty years for a war is more than enough for him.  He doesn't think the United Nations is necessary. Instead, we should build bigger and better bombs and convince the other nations that we're not too chicken to use them. 

Rod Serling of Twilight Zone wrote the script based on Dickens' famous Christmas Carol.  If anyone can scare you and make you think, it is he. I promise you that you will be haunted for years to come by the visitation of these three ghosts. No spoilers, but the Ghost of Christmas Future was far too much like events from our own times. 

The cast is all-star and they pull out all the stops. Peter Sellers' performance as the Individual Me was shocking and outrageous--and led straight into his next more notable acting in Dr. Strangelove. 

I should add all-star for the music, too.  The theme song is by Henry Mancini and is a gorgeous piece of music. 

Sadly, this film is not on DVD.  My hope is that TCM's showings have resurrected this gem enough for someone to produce it.  I will be in line to buy the DVD as soon as they do.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, December 2012

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