SCROOGE manages the feat of being a splendid Christmas movie (it is probably the very best specificially Christmas film ever) and, to me, the single best film adaptation of Dickens period. Sorry, David Lean and GREAT EXPECTATIONS fans.
Sim’s Scrooge’s transformation is by far the most complex that I’ve seen, his ultimate joyful excitement always tempered with the awareness of how terrible a man he had been. For all his giddy laughter (his delighted dance of “I don’t know anything, I never did know anything, but now I know that I don’t know, all on a Christmas morning!” is one of the joys of screen acting for me), he really seems to be sorry for what he has been in the past, and deeply ashamed of himself. This regret shows itself in many interesting little moments, most touchingly in his appearance at his nephew Fred’s Christmas dinner. Reginald Owens’ Scrooge greets his nephew’s fiance with a smile and a kiss and that’s it. Sim’s Scrooge, however, greets her with a shamefaced smile and a sincerely heartfelt yet gentle apology that can’t help but be moving. There’s even one remarkable quiet moment upon Scrooge’s arrival at his nephew’s home, a privileged moment of Scrooge alone at the door to the parlor, at something of a loss, working up the courage to enter the party. There’s a little maid standing nearby, who has just taken Scrooge’s coat, and she smiles at him and seems to motion to him to go ahead and go on in. Scrooge responds with a little nod of the head and flicker of a smile that is one of the loveliest little moments in the film.