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No humbug here: Five truly unique Scrooge portrayals

Looking back at some of the most unique Scrooges in film and TV history

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Alastair Sim – Scrooge (1951) The imperious scowl. Those baleful owl eyes. That plummy voice. The late, great Alastair Sim made dozens of movies in his lifetime, but this is still the only one anyone can name, and his Best Scrooge Ever status remains firmly intact. Upon repeated viewing, it becomes fairly apparent that Scrooge was a low-budget offering from England’s Renown Pictures; some of the sets are clearly slapped-together soundstages. But Sim threw his heart and soul into the character and took the movie, and Scrooge’s humanity, to a higher ground. What most people don’t know is that Sim played Scrooge all over again 20 years later by voicing the character for an animated ABC version of A Christmas Carol. He was plummier than ever.

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Stan Freberg – Green Chri$tma$ (1958) Beatnik humorist Stan Freberg made his living cranking out novelty songs back in the fifties, but he sure hit a nerve with this one. Running over six minutes, the skit-style record takes aim at holiday-season commercialization of Christmas, with Freberg himself playing the role of Mr. Scrooge, head of an ad agency that has assembled a handful of clients looking to cash in on Christmas. Client Bob Cratchit resists and receives a harsh lesson in American advertising with pointed digs at Coca-Cola and Marlboro cigarettes. Freberg’s record label refused to release the song, the advertising industry screamed blue murder and the actual single wasn’t released until 1983. Heard today, the song feels corny, dated and naive, but for 1958? Stan Freberg was a rock star.

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Beavis – Beavis and Butt-Head/Huh-Huh-Humbug (1995) Until this sixth-season episode, we never realized how much Beavis had in common with Ebenezer Scrooge. Both were small-minded characters (more so in Beavis’s case), both were luckless with the opposite sex and both loved Judas Priest. Set in the not-far-off and inevitable future, the story had Beavis as the Scroogey manager of Burger World, with no sign of Butt-Head. On Christmas Eve, Beavis Scrooge is visited by three ghosts, namely, fusty Tom Anderson, their mewling hippie teacher Mr. Van Driessen and the cruel Coach Buzzcut. As per Dickens’ tale, they come to warn Beavis that he’s going to die alone. All Beavis wants to do is watch a porno.

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Patrick Stewart – A Christmas Carol (1999) Captain Picard made a splendid Scrooge and why wouldn’t he? The former Star Trek: The Next Generation mainstay had already played the role countless times in Broadway and London theatre productions and everything coalesced in this lavish cable version. The TNT movie took visual inspiration from the 1951 Alastair Sim version – which meant that everything looked as gloomy and depressing as Dickens-era England probably was – but Stewart essayed his own stamp on the character by playing Scrooge as written: hateful and miserly, but also a man worthy of redemption. A masterful performance.

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Kelsey Grammer – A Christmas Carol (2004) Good on you, Frasier. Kelsey Grammer was the obvious choice to play Scrooge in this splashy NBC movie-musical based directly on the nineties stage production. Following roughly two decades playing a fallible fop on Cheers and Frasier, Grammer hammed it up as the miserly misanthrope and dove into the musical numbers written by Alan Mencken and Lynn Ahrens like a Broadway pro. As a bonus, if you closed your eyes, you could picture Sideshow Bob in the role.

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