Thursday, December 11, 2014

“If Quite Convenient, Sir" | Alastair Sim (1971)



Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

In Richard Williams' Oscar-winning cartoon, Scrooge has so far been portrayed as cold-hearted in every sense of the word. He's gotten angry, but for the most part he's calm, aloof, and used to being in complete control of his situation. Cratchit hasn't had much to do, but he looks constantly and deeply sad. There's an enormous imbalance in power between these two men and Cratchit is worn down by it.

For good reason, too. The one time that Scrooge has lost his cool was when Cratchit wished Fred a "Merry Christmas." Scrooge had patiently endured Fred's interruption and was dismissive of him until Cratchit got involved. This Scrooge appears to be especially abusive to his clerk as this year's scene continues to reveal.

After the solicitors leave the counting house, the film fades to black and lets time pass before the clock chimes seven. The film then cuts from the clock to Scrooge and Cratchit as they get ready to go. Cratchit's already dressed for outside and is helping Scrooge by holding the old man's hat. The first line is Scrooge's asking Cratchit about the day off, but for all we know we could be coming in on the middle of a conversation.

Not that Cratchit is all that talkative. His "If quite convenient, sir" is very timid and leads to more lecturing by Scrooge. Alastair Sim delivers his lines languidly, explaining his point as if to a child. To Cratchit's credit though, he sticks up for himself a little when he observes that it's only once a year. That irritates Scrooge though and he's grouchy when he orders Cratchit to be there all the earlier the next morning.

They leave together and it's actually Scrooge who locks the door, as if he doesn't trust Cratchit. This is the saddest, most miserable Cratchit so far.

There's no caroler or street scene in this version. We'll get a little of that next year as we follow Scrooge home, but for now the movie's focused on the two men. And there's certainly no scene with Cratchit joining any boys in sliding on some ice. That kind of levity would completely ruin what the movie's doing with his character so far.

2 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Seems like quite the dark version of the story and especially of Scrooge. Makes me wonder whether Crachit's defense of Scrooge during his family toast comes off as something from deep in Crachit's character or something he just feels obligated to do. I know, i already brought up the toast, but it just seems to me to have deeper meaning when you see how Scrooge treats Crachit in their last interaction before that scene.

Michael May said...

You're making me want to skip ahead to that scene!

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