In this modestly budgeted MGM production, Reginald Owen stepped in at the last minute for an ailing Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge. This version is softer and brighter -- more Hollywood, if you will -- than other interpretations, leading some critics to label it "A Christmas Carol Lite." Scrooge, for instance, transforms early in the story, shedding his misanthropic ways and embracing the true meaning of Christmas after the first ghostly visit. Why so hasty? Maybe because the film clocks in at a sprightly 69 minutes. Historians have pointed out that the country was still reeling from the Great Depression and on the verge of war, so the filmmakers likely had good reason to smooth out the rough edges. Tip: Go for the original black-and-white, not the colorized version. And see if you can spot a young June Lockhart playing one of the Cratchit kids.
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