With the year finally shifting into holiday mode, it's a great time to sample the many films inspired by Charles Dickens' immortal A Christmas Carol.
A Very Dickens Christmas is a matinee series screening on Saturdays in December 2012, at 1:30 p.m. in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
These showings are part of the Library's celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Dickens, the greatest writer of the Victorian era, the creator of some of the most memorable characters in all fiction, and a social critic whose views were a century ahead of most everyone else.
Admission is free. The film schedule:
December 1: A Christmas Carol (1951)
Widely regarded as the best, most joyful film version of the classic Yuletide yarn, this British production features Alastair Sim giving a truly monumental performance as Ebenezer Scrooge. Rating: NR. 86 minutes.
December 8: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
It's funny, certainly, but this retelling of the story by Jim Henson's furry creations is also remarkably moving, thanks to a terrific performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge, not to mention Kermit and Miss Piggy as the Cratchits. Features a wonderful Paul Williams score and original songs. Rating: G. 85 minutes.
December 15: Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)
Jim Carrey (as Scrooge), Gary Oldman, and Colin Firth are among the actors who performed Dickens' story for the cameras; their work was then transformed into computer animation (not unlike The Polar Express). Directed by Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis. MPAA rating: PG. 96 minutes.
December 22: Scrooged (1988)
In this clever updating Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a mean-spirited TV executive who on Christmas Eve is visited by three spirits intent on changing his sour view of the holidays. Murray's patented dourness offers just the right leavening for the yarn's ultimate sentimentality. With Carol Kane, Karen Allen, Robert Mitchum, Alfre Woodard, Jamie Farr, Robert Goulet. MPAA rating: PG-13. 101 minutes.
December 29: Scrooge (1970)
This musical version (with original score by Leslie Bricusse of "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and "Candy Man" fame) stars Albert Finney in the title role and features such veteran British performers as Alec Guinness, Edith Evans, and Kenneth Moore. MPAA rating: G. 113 minutes.
Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.