Alastair Sim "A Christmas Carol" - Which Version?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by BarryNS, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. BarryNS

    BarryNS Stunt Coordinator

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    I have FINALLY found some e-tailers that indicate they have this disc in stock (long story: in the fall of 2002 I ordered it from DVD-Depot in the hopes of having it for Christmas 2002 with the family, and it was backordered until I had enough waiting and cancelled the order just this past September!)....but, most sites seem to have two different versions of the disc (at two different prices), one released in 1998 from "Magic Lantern Entertainment" and another released in 1999 from "VCI Home Video"....which is the one to get? And I assume both are in the original black and white and not some horrendous "colourization theater" version? That "little detail" is missing in the descriptions of both discs online....
     
  2. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    Amazon has this movie on DVD (B&W) from a studio called "United Home" released in 2002. The one from VCI was released in 2001 as a 50th anniversary edition, although they have since released a colorized version -- the bastards.

    I'm curious how two studios can apparently have publishing rights to the same movie. It's not old enough to be in the public domain yet.
     
  3. BarryNS

    BarryNS Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw that one on Amazon.com....unfortunately Amazon.ca does not have it, and I'm not confident Amazon.com will ship it to me in Canada after they refused to ship a CD my dad wanted due to copyright restrictions (it could not be sold legally to anyone outside the USA) that the US site had listed but the Canadian site did not.
     
  4. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    The colorized version has a decent print however, and I believe the B+W version is on the flipside... If not, turn down the color on your set. The print is decent...

    [​IMG] D
     
  5. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    The version I have from VCI omits the first several seconds of the film....it is the 50th anniversary edition.
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    JUST picked up a copy of the VCI DVD at a Borders the other day for $10.99. It's B&W with a cheesy intro and outro by Patrick MacNee.

    I picked it up becaue of:

    1.) the movie and Sim's performance.
    2.) the price.
    3.) this description on the back -- "VCI is pleased to present this holiday classic, fully restored and re-mastered from the original 35MM negative discovered in England." Copyright 2003.

    Well, the first two still make it worth it. I guess I'm spoiled when I hear "restored & re-mastered". I think of efforts like "Singing In The Rain". Don't get me wrong. This is probably as good as you can get right now for this film.
     
  7. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I just saw ScottR's post and popped in my copy to double-check. The entire beginning of the movie is present and accounted for. There is even a prolonged slate for "Renown Pictures" before the opening credits begin.

    This version also has the Max Fleisher cartoon, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on it. The opening credits look awesome. But thats as far as it goes. The print is all scratchy and the audio sucks.
     
  8. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    Actually, there are lots of more recent films in the Public Domain. Lots of titles, even large studio releases, have gone into public domain because of sales to defunct companies, failure to follow copyright procedures, etc. It has onl been recently, with the mega-lawsuits filed by Di$ney that public domain has pretty much become a thing of the past. Gee thanks, Di$ney.
     
  9. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Cool...so maybe they addressed the missing opening on this new 2003 pressing.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Scott, how bad was it?
     
  11. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    The film is in the public domain. A film such as MGM's "Till The Clouds Roll By" is in the public domain simply because lawyers at the company forgot to renew it! Still, the original negs remain WB (now) property and any other version will have been taken from a release print (35mm or 16mm) resulting in a poorer image.
     
  12. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  13. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    On my copy, the beginning where the book is on the shelf before the man reaches up to pull it down....is missing.
     
  14. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    As far as I know, the title is also less than ideal on all current DVD releases.

    Though based on the novel "A Christmas Carol," the film's original title was Scrooge.

    This is one I wish Criterion would get their paws on.
     
  15. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I've been searching for a superior version of this film for years, and am frequently disappointed upon picking up the latest and greatest edition.

    I started years ago seeking a VHS copy that was decent. Unfortunately, the cleanest version seemed to be the colorized version. At least some care had been taken, and dirt removed from the film, though it was less than ideal to say the least.

    Upon 'graduating' to LaserDisc, I picked up this must-have title despite warnings about the transfer. And it was awful. Released by United Entertainment in 1988, this miserable disc remains an example of what can go wrong with video transfers. Heavy overuse of noise reduction on the analog-only audio tracks buried the magnificent Addinsell score, and the image was zoomed in, resulting in an almost pan-and-scan cramped feel. The only positive thing about that disc was that it contained the full opening - long Renown logo followed by the bookshelf full of Dickens titles, then a man's hand grabs "A Christmas Carol."

    In 1996, the LaserDisc world got notice of a new transfer of Scrooge being released by The Roan Group. I was excited at perhaps finally getting a decent representation of this fine film. This is apparently the same transfer as the one on today's VCI DVD release. It's missing the bit of footage at the beginning, and it seems to have the same dirt and jumps as what we have today. It also contains the Patrick MacNee introduction and the Rudolph cartoon. The LaserDisc had a few more "added attractions" in the form of sing-along short subjects.

    The VCI DVD I have has only the black & white version. I'm tempted to spring for the one with both, with the idea of having the somewhat cleaner colorized version in my DVD library. I'm no fan of colorization, but at least this disc offers both.

    Odds and ends - the Patrick MacNee introduction was taped for the TV premiere of the colorized version back in 1989. I always found it odd that Mr. MacNee didn't even hint in his introduction or postscript that he was actually IN the film, as the young Jacob Marley.

    The bit about the title remains a source of confusion. Every year, as you look through the TV Guide listings, you'll see the colorized version listed as "Scrooge" while the black & white version gets "A Christmas Carol." According to the Roan Group Laserdisc's notes, the film was released in the USA as "A Christmas Carol." Are there any prints around that don't clearly say "Scrooge" at the opening?

    Harry
     
  16. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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  17. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    Yes, Rain is correct...
    the British title of this, in its original release
    was SCROOGE...

    Perhaps when the musical film called SCROOGE
    was released, its title was changed for TV?
    They used to do odd things like that.

    Speaking of the musical,
    it is my favorite,
    but this one is my next favorite...
    brilliantly cast,
    and Malcom Arnold (yes, i believe it was he)
    wrote a gorgeous score for this.

    I've never seen it look anything less than
    mediocre.
     
  18. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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