A Christmas Carol (1938)

christmas carol reginald owenSometimes it’s OK to wander around at night and stare at people through their windows.


In case you have lived under a rock your whole life (which would be very uncomfortable but I’m not here to judge) A Christmas Carol is a story written by Charles Dickens back in 1843. I’ve never read it, but I’ve watched Mickey’s Christmas Carol like a thousand times so…pretty sure that counts.

Lionel Barrymore (who shares his first name with the leader of the Thundercats but that’s beside the point) had big roles in classic films like It’s a Wonderful Life and You Can’t Take It With You, and he was originally supposed to star in this film. When Lionel took ill (Barrymore, not the Thundercat), he suggested his friend Reginald Owen play the part of Scrooge.

Here are a few members of the cast worth calling out:

  • Reginald Owen (Scrooge) is Admiral Boom in Mary Poppins. He’s also in Random Harvest.
  • Ann Rutherford (Ghost of Christmas Past) is Gertrude in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
  • Leo G. Carroll (Marley) is the pastor from Parent Trap.
  • Lynne Carver (Bess) is Emmy Lou in Broadway Melody of 1940.
  • Gene Lockhart (Bob Cratchit) is the judge in Miracle on 34th Street. He’s also in Going My Way and his wife in this movie is his wife in real life. Not only that, but Gene’s daughter, June Lockhart, also plays his daughter in this film. She later appeared in Sergeant York and Meet Me in St. Louis. And not only THAT, but there’s a possibility that Gene’s second cousin twice removed was friends with the great-grandfather of one of the extra’s great-aunt’s neighbor’s goldfish’s nephews, but I can’t be sure.

OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Have you ever met somebody who laughs a little too long with their eyes a little too open? That’s Scrooge in this movie. (Note: I was going to add “#Creepy” after that sentence, but then I remembered I’m not a teenage girl.)

jacob marley christmas

There were several moments in this film that struck a familiar, spiritual chord inside of me, and because this is a blog post and not a novel, I will only share three of these moments. All of these have to do with man’s capacity to contribute to something—and become something—greater than himself.

First from Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, in defense of Christmas and its potential to change us:

“I’ve always looked on Christmas as a good time—a kind, charitable, forgiving, pleasant time. It’s the only time when people open their hearts freely. It’s the only time when men and women seem to realize that all human beings are really members of the same family. And that being members of the same family, they owe each other some measure of warmth and solace…I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good, and I say God bless it.”

The next comes from Jacob Marley, lamenting the ignored opportunities to reach out to others in his life:

“No space of regret can make amends for the wasted opportunities of one life.”

“You were always a good man of business, Jacob.”

“Business? Mankind was my business. Common welfare was my business. Charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence—all these were my business. It is at this time of year that I suffer most. To see the wont I could have stopped. The suffering I could have solaced. The hunger I could have satisfied.”

The last comes from Scrooge himself, desperately begging for another chance at life:

“Men’s lives lead to certain ends. But if those lives be changed, will not the ends be changed?”

Yes, Ebenezer, because of the birth and Atonement of Jesus Christ, they will. Merry Christmas.

And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart.” — Alma 5:12

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