Tuesday, November 27, 2012
'Merry Christmas, Uncle!' | Mark McDermott (1910)
For some reason, Thomas Edison's silent film puts Scrooge's nephew after the visit from the Charity Relief Committee. It's not the only version to do that, so there must be a reason for it, but I sure can't figure out what it is.
After Scrooge kicks the Committee out of his office, a title card tells us that "His nephew calls to wish him a Merry Christmas." By the time we cut back to the action, the nephew's already halfway through the door. Scrooge doesn't seem to see him though (or is just ignoring him) and continues working. He doesn't look up or turn around until his nephew's standing right over him, but his attention could also have been gotten by the large, boisterous group of people coming through the door next. The nephew, it seems, has brought friends (two women and a gentleman). And they're in a great mood.
The nephew tries a couple of times to shake Scrooge's hand, but Scrooge ignores it, seeming much more concerned about getting this rabble out of his place of business. He shows them out and then bows towards his nephew to indicate that he can follow them. The nephew tries once more to shake Scrooge's hand, but this time Scrooge outright refuses. Scrooge closes the door behind his nephew and takes the time to shake a cane at the party through his window. Scrooge's nephew seems jolly throughout most of the scene, but he's somewhat deflated by his uncle's rebuffing as he leaves.
I'm not sure what the deal is with his bringing an entourage. I had a nice little theory about his bringing friends in hope that Scrooge will see that he's honestly wanted by the entire group for Christmas dinner. That falls apart though because there is no actual dinner invitation in this version. As presented, the nephew's just barging in on Scrooge's workplace with his rowdy friends and Scrooge is perfectly justified in throwing them all out. This is supported by the end of the film when Scrooge goes to visit his nephew. We'll see the reason for the visit when we get to that scene, but there's no dinner or party involved.
Which boils the current scene down to Scrooge doesn't like his nephew and his rowdy friends. Marry that up with Scrooge's fussing at his clerk and refusing to help the Charity Relief Committee and you've got a clear picture that Scrooge isn't easy to get along with, if not exactly a reason why that is. Since we don't get to hear any of the dialogue in this scene, we don't learn anything new about Scrooge's relationships with his clerk or nephew.