An American Christmas Carol (1979) Henry Winkler, Dorian Harewood, Susan Hogan, Cec Linder Movie Review

An American Christmas Carol (1979)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Henry Winkler in An American Christmas Carol (1979)

Winkler's Ghostly Happy Days

Times are hard in America as the Great Depression leave families struggling for money but that doesn't affect businessman Benedict Slade (Henry Winkler) from serving his customers with repossession orders when they can't make their payments and it doesn't matter one iota that it is Christmas and supposedly the season of goodwill to all men. But after another day of repossessing goods and making his good hearted assistant Thatcher (R.H. Thomson) hand out court papers to those who owe him money Benedict receives a visit from three apparitions who look like some of his customers who that very day he showed no pity towards.

If someone approached Henry Winkler now to play Scrooge or a variation on Scrooge in a movie of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" I would be all for it as Winkler has a tiny bit of the Alastair Sim about him when it comes to mixing drama and comedy. But to my knowledge that hasn't happened, yet back in 1979 Winkler who at the height of his popularity as the Fonz in "Happy Days" stars in an American re-imagination of "A Christmas Carol" and dons wild grey hair and makeup to age him. It is simply wrong and despite giving it is his best shot Winkler does not convince as the Scrooge like Benedict Slade.

But there is more to "An American Christmas Carol" that just the ridiculously wrong casting of Henry Winkler and as ideas go I actually like the idea of switching the story to the depression era, it works well for that period of time. I also like the twist with Slade being paid a visit by three apparitions who appear to have been customers on the end of repossession notices that very day. These updates and there are more such as Slade being introduced to an idea similar to credit payments which are in fact very clever updates on Dickens' original story. And more importantly the people behind this version didn't just re-imagine they also rewrote and so many of the lines which have appeared in many versions and re-imaginations are replaced completely.

What this all boils down to is that on one hand "An American Christmas Carol" is a clever, nicely written re-imagining of the familiar "A Christmas Carol" but on the other hand falls short because of the simply wrong casting of Henry Winkler in the role of an old miser. Yet ironically if they were to remake "An American Christmas Carol" I would love to see Winkler reprise the role as he would suit it better having aged.

Tags: TV Christmas Movies, Christmas Movies, A Christmas Carol