Box art for A Christmas Carol (1938)

A Christmas Carol (1938)

children & family


In this adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic tale, an elderly miser learns the error of his ways on Christmas Eve when he is visited by ghosts from Christmases past, present and future.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    100%
  • Audience Score
    71%

common sense

ON for kids age 6
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
Language
0 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Sexy Stuff
0 out of 5
Violence & scariness
0 out of 5

A gentle, less scary version of the classic.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that younger viewers might still be unnerved by the ghosts.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about what Christmas is really about. Families with teens can compare this movie to later versions. The theme that one man's cruelty affects the lives of many is a worthwhile subject for families to discuss. Families may also want to discuss how people survive and deal with unfair circumstances. How do the Cratchits cope?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Audience Reviews

5 stars

Alastair Sim's 1951 version has it's devotees,but many consider this 1938 version a favorite of one of the screen adaptations based on Charles Dickens' classic novel. One of the reasons why is for counting actress June Lockhart,the daughter of Gene Lockhart,who made her theatrical debut at the age of 12,as one of the children of Bob and Emily Cratchit(played by her real life parents Gene and Kathleen Lockhart). Acclaim British actor Reginald Owen stars as Ebenezer Scrooge,the Christmas-hating curmudgeon who finally gets into the spirit of the Holiday season.

- rayman0071, Monday, December 20, 2010

5 stars

This is film number 7 of 30, the first and original Christmas Carol. Thought I have seen many different versions of this film, this is the first time I have seen this edition, and I must say it's the best by far, old school black and white film. Scrooge is played as good as one can play that part, the ghost are not meant to be scary and there not. This version is an excellent family film that can be watched by all. 5 Stars

- bbcfloridabound, Monday, November 22, 2010

4 stars

A story like this that has been made into countless film adaptations can be a little difficult to discern from all the others. When it comes down to it, all we really have to differentiate one Scrooge from another is the acting (and to a lesser extent, how the effects are handled) and just how many liberties the film-makers take with the original story by Charles Dickens. While a few liberties may have been taken in 1938's A Christmas Carol, the performances more than excuse this. Originally, Lionel Barrymore was meant to play Scrooge, reprising the role he had made famous through many radio productions throughout the 30s. When Barrymore had to back out of the role due to illness, Reginald Owen stepped in and the result is a memorable and iconic performance. The Lockhart family (Gene, Kathleen and June, for the first and only time they all appear in a film together) give us a sweet turn as the Cratchit family, and Barry MacKay as Scrooge's nephew Fred, is also quite good. If you're looking for an infusion of yuletide spirit, look no further.

- bottcorecords1, Friday, December 18, 2009