Monday, December 15, 2014
“If Quite Convenient, Sir" | Mark McDermott (1910)
Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project
Edison's Christmas Carol is only ten minutes long, so it's super bare-boned. By the time Cratchit leaves the office for the night, we're only two minutes into the movie. The charitable solicitors and Fred all breezed in and out quickly without even intertitle cards for dialogue. As I observed the last couple of years, Scrooge's visitors are all so obnoxiously boisterous that it's hard to blame him for being cranky with them. You really have to know the story already to get what's actually going on.
But I'm never satisfied with that as an answer. The fun of this project for me is to read into what's actually in the adaptation, not what the adaptors expect me to fill in. So as far as I'm concerned, Mark McDermott's Scrooge is grouchy, but that's about it.
He fussed at Cratchit at the beginning of the story and he fusses at him again when Cratchit leaves. But that could be because of bad timing. Scrooge is still shaking his cane out the window at his departing nephew (and his nephew's loud, disruptive friends) when Cratchit abruptly gets up and starts putting on his scarf to go home. Scrooge turns his displeasure on the clerk who points to the clock. There are still no intertitle cards for dialogue, so we get no conflict over Cratchit's getting the holiday off. Instead, it's purely an argument about Cratchit's departure time and Cratchit comes off looking like a clock-watcher and maybe a little bit lazy.
Scrooge lets Cratchit go though and returns to his desk to get some more work done. So far, it's hard to see the problem with this Scrooge. As far as I can tell, there's nothing wrong with him that wouldn't be fixed by a quiet evening at home, but I don't think he's gonna get one.