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Dickens' Pickin's.

By Jesse Fox Mayshark

DECEMBER 21, 1998:  Charles Dickens wrote a lot of great books, many of them better than A Christmas Carol. But while many of his works have been made into movies, none has been revisited so often and so diversely as the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts. No one has ever asked Dickens himself what he thinks of the myriad adaptations—until now. Using the services of Madame Mucho DeNiro ("No seance too small"), we managed a few minutes of dialogue with the literary legend. A partial transcript follows:

MP: So, have you had a chance to see many of the adaptations of A Christmas Carol?

CD: Oh, yes, yes. We get basic cable up here, although they won't spring for HBO.


MP: Do you have a favorite?

CD: Well, I suppose the 1951 version is really the best. At least it's actually British, not like all these bizarre American things with people talking like they have burrs in their arses.


MP: That's the Alastair Sim one. Do you think he's the best Scrooge?

CD: Probably, probably. Although I like George C. Scott too, that 1984 TV movie thing. I hadn't considered making Scrooge a physical brute like that. The only problem is at the end—I don't think Mr. Scott is really capable of seeming joyful. I was still convinced he was going to eat one of the little children.


MP: How about the best Bob Cratchit?

CD: Hmm...Definitely not that strange little reptile [Kermit the Frog played Cratchit in The Muppet Christmas Carol]. I don't think I quite understood that one, I'm afraid. I did rather like, um, Mr. Goldthwait I think his name was [Scrooged, with Bill Murray, 1988]. He was kind of a vengeful Cratchit, shotgunning things and so forth. A different interpretation, to be sure, but lively. Carol Kane was good in that one too, smacking people with appliances.


MP: Right, she was the Ghost of Christmas Past. Any other favorite ghosts?

CD: Well, most people get Christmas Future right. I mean, how can you go wrong? A black robe, a bony finger, it's not Shakespeare for heaven's sake. I do have to say I'm not fond of the musical versions, that muppet thing and the Albert Finney one [Scrooge, 1970]. I lived in Victorian England, and let me tell you, there was very little singing in the streets. You know, that's where people emptied their chamberpots. If you pranced around in the muck caterwauling, you were liable to end up in the madhouse.


MP: Is the story popular, um, up there? With the other spirits and all?

CD: Oh, you know, once you are a ghost, ghost stories are rather boring. We're more interested in living things—Melrose Place is a personal favorite. I'm thinking of submitting some scripts. You don't have Heather Locklear's phone number, do you?


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