How Many Christmas Carol Movies Have There Been?

There have been 20 different films based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, if you consider the recent 3-D version, Disney’s A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey. When I say there have been 20 Scrooge Stories on film, though, I’m talking about animated films for Children, silent movie shorts, modern adaptations and films loosely based on A Christmas Carol. If you want faithful, feature length live-action films that played on the big screen, there have been 7 such movies based on A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol in Prose

The original 1843 novella by Charles Dickens was titled A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Ironically, it’s said that Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in a matter of weeks, because he needed money for the coming birth of his fifth child. A Christmas Carol is famously based on a character who loses the spirit of Christmas (or human goodwill in general) because of an immoral level of greed. When visited by three ghosts who show Ebenezer Scrooge visions of the past, present and future, Scrooge learns a valuable lesson and turns from the picture of the amoral businessman of the 19th century into a man of charity and goodwill.

Since the publication of A Christmas Carol, the story has never been out of print and has been adapted both for 22 stage productions, 2 operas, 4 recordings, at least 10 radio broadcasts, 49 loosely based tv show adaptations and 20 film versions. Many of the Christmas Carol films have been animated versions of the Scrooge tale.

A Christmas Carol Animated Films

Christmas Carol MoviesSince it’s a Christmas story and it involves ghosts and children, it’s natural that less grim versions of A Christmas Carol have been turned into animated movies for children. For the past several generations, many peoples’ first encounter with A Christmas Carol has been through animated versions.

  • A Christmas Carol – 1971 animated short by Richard Williams, later famous for directing Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Starred Alistair Sim, reprising his role from 1951.
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 1983 short film starring the most famous Walt Disney characters, with none other than Scrooge McDuck, naturally in the role of Scrooge. Disney’s first version of A Christmas Carol.
  • A Christmas Carol – Lesser known straight-to-video animated version by Jetlag Productions, an American-Japanese studio.
  • A Christmas Carol – 1997 – Animated film featuring the versatile Tim Curry as Scrooge and also starring Michael York, Whoopi Goldberg and voiceover master, Ed Asner.
  • Christmas Carol: The Movie – Ambitious 2001 animated film by Illuminated Films, using voices of famous movie stars like Nicholas Cage, Kate Winslet and Simon Callow.
  • A Christmas Carol - This 2006 film uses computer animation and anthropomorphic animals to tell the story of Scrooge.
  • Barbie in a Christmas Carol – 2008 film loosely based on A Christmas Carol, from the seemingly endless series of Barbie animated movies.

A Christmas Carol Short Films

Dickens’ Christmas tale was an early favorite of the movie producers and was adapted to film on four occasions before World War I even. Each of these silent films were film shorts for British audiences.

  • Scrooge; Or Marley’s Ghost – 1901
  • A Christmas Carol – 1908 version which starred Thomas Ricketts as Scrooge.
  • A Christmas Carol – A 15-minute short with Marc McDermott and Charles Ogle, respectively playing Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit.
  • Scrooge (Old Scrooge) – Sir Seymour Hicks starred in this 1913 film, which was released in the United States in 1926 under another name.

A Christmas Carol Movies

Finally, we have our list of feature-length adaptations of A Christmas Carol. If you’re looking at these as the only faithful film versions of the movie, then I would say there have been 10 film versions. If you’re talking about true adaptations and not Muppet versions and modern versions based on A Christas Carol, then take out the 1988 and 1992 selections and say there have been 8 Christmas Carol feature films or feature length movies.

There are likely others just as deserving as the television movie starring Patrick Stewart, though I’ve relegated most to the list of tv versions of A Christmas Carol, because they are either not very true to the original source material or weren’t full features. For instance, I left off 1997′s Ebenezer, starring Jack Palance and Ricky Schroeder in a Western version of Scrooge. I also left off the Hallmark Channel’s version, starring Tori Spelling as “Scroogette”. I think you get the picture.

  • The Right To Be Happy – This 1916 silent movie was the first full length film version of A Christmas Carol, starring Rupert Julian in the Scrooge role.
  • A Christmas Carol – Another silent movie version from the United Kingdom, this 1923 film stars Russell Thorndike, Jack Denton, Forbes Dawson and Nina Vanna.
  • Scrooge – Seymour Hicks reprises his role as Scrooge in this 1935 release.
  • A Christmas Carol – 1938 version with Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart.
  • Scrooge – This 1951 release, starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge, along with Mervyn Johns and Hermione Baddeley. Considered by many to be the best version of A Christmas Carol on film.
  • Scrooge – 1970 musical starring Albert Finney and Alec Guiness as Scrooge and Marley’s Ghost, respectively. This is the film many of us grew up watching.
  • Scrooged – Modern adaptation from 1988 starring Bill Murray as a tv producer who doesn’t understand the spirit of Christmas.
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol – A 1992 film that was targeted for children, using the famous puppets created by Jim Henson.
  • A Christmas Carol – 1999 feature length tv film starring Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge. If you want to consider only feature films that played at the cinema, leave this one off the list. It’s a faithful adapation, though.
  • Disney’s A Christmas Carol – 2009 “performance capture” film, with Jim Carrey starring as Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future. Released on November 4, 2009. (U.S.)

11 thoughts on “How Many Christmas Carol Movies Have There Been?

  1. DAVID SHERE

    Great list. You left out a childhood favorite of mine, and pretty good adaptation too. MR. MAGOOS CHRISTMAS CAROL!!

    David Shere

  2. Dee

    There are other versions too!! George C Scott, Donald Duck, there have been cartoon ones. Then there are the female ones, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson, Susan Lucci. There is also Chasing Christmas. There are so many out there. I want them all

  3. ML Pugh

    I remember Mr. Magoo, as well. I read the book due to watching this animated version. There was another version filmed for TV starring George C. Scott. I consider it an excellent telling of the story.

  4. RX

    “An American Christmas Carol” starring Henry Winkler. This list is woefully short. I’d like to see a complete list of all of the film and tee vee adaptations of the theme.

  5. Canadian

    What is the version that has includes boat making with empty bottles? I have looked everywheres for it and used to have it on vhs but no longer do … it was a funny version, anyone able to help?

  6. PJ

    This is not all but hope this helps the next person.

    1.1901 directed by Walter R. Booth
    2.1908 with Thomas Ricketts
    3.1910 with Marc McDermott
    4.1913 with Sir Seymour Hicks
    5.1914 with Charles Rock
    6.1916 with Rupert Julian
    7.1922 with H. V. Esmond
    8.1923 with Russell Thorndike
    9.1926 ?
    10.1928 with Bransby Williams
    11.1935 with Sir Seymour Hicks again – My Third Favorite
    12.1938 with Reginald Owen – My Second Favorite
    13.1943 with William Podmore
    14.1947 with John Carradine
    15.1948 with Dennis King
    16.1949 with Taylor Holmes
    17.1950 with Bransby Williams
    18.1951 with Alastair Sim – My Favorite
    19.1951 with Ralph Richardson
    20.1952 with Malcolm Keen
    21.1953 with Noel Leslie
    22.1954 with Fredric March
    23.1956 with Basil Rathbone
    24,1957 with John McIntire
    25.1958 with Basil Rathbone again
    26.1964 with Sterling Hayden
    27.1964 with Cyril Ritchard
    28.1969 with Sid James
    29.1970 with Ron Haddrick
    30.1970 with Albert Finney – Believe it or not, I’ve never seen this.
    31.1971 with Alistair Sim – animated
    32.1977 with Michael Hordern
    33.1978 with Warren Graves
    34.1978 with Walter Matthau – Rankin/Bass Production
    35.1981 with William Paterson
    36.1982 with Henry Winkler
    37.1982 with Richard Hilger
    38.1984 with Jack Elam
    39.1984 with George C. Scott
    40.1988 with Rowan Atkinson as Ebenezer Blackadder
    41.1988 with Robert Guillaume
    42. 1995 with Susan Lucci
    43.1997 with Jack Palance
    44. 1197 with Whoopie Goldberg
    45.1999 with Patrick Stewart
    46.2000 with Ross Kemp
    47.2001 with Simon Callow
    48.2001 with Dean Jones
    49.2003 with Tori Spelling
    50. 2004 with Kelsey Grammer
    51.Mickey’s Christmas Carol – My Sixth Favorite
    52.Muppet’s Christmas Carol – My Fifth Favorite
    53.Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Carol
    54.Animaniac’s Christmas Carol
    55.Flinstone’s Christmas Carol
    56.Sesame Street Christmas Carol
    57.Looney Tunes Christmas Carol
    58.Jetson’s Christmas Carol
    59.Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
    60. Barbie Christmas Carol
    61.Bill Murray’s Scrooged

  7. Matt

    All my life I’ve asked people about a movie based on the Dickens calssic that was shown on TV in ’64. Not one person knew what i was talking about. As an 11 yr old this made a huge and lasting impression on me that’s stuck with me all these years.But after all the negative response I started thinking that maybe I’d imagined it. Low and behold, I found it today on Turner Classics- Rod Serling’s “Carol For Another Christmas”.TCM showed it twice last month. Many huge future stars including Peter Sellers’ film debut.

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