Tuesday, December 13, 2016
“More of Gravy than of Grave” | Mark McDermott (1910)
Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project
Thomas Edison's Christmas Carol goes straight from Scrooge still in the office to his front door. A title card announces that we'll be seeing "the ghostly face of his former partner, Marley." This is the first mention of Marley in the movie and we really haven't seen Scrooge be anything more than justifiably cranky, so this could be rough to understand what's going on. An earlier title card described Scrooge as a "hard-fisted miser," but we haven't actually seen him do anything to justify that label.
Marley's face superimposes over the knocker twice. Scrooge "humbugs" it the first time, but looks more worried after the second. He still manages another "humbug" though. He ain't no fool.
As Scrooge goes inside, another title card tells us, "The ghost of Marley, who was like unto Scrooge, warns him of his punishment hereafter unless he becomes a different man." So we're back to the "hard-fisted miser" description, because otherwise it's unclear what Scrooge needs to change.
Cut to Scrooge sitting next to a fireplace as a transparent Marley enters. Scrooge covers his eyes, disbelieving, but Marley insists that he's real. This is all done through pantomime; there are no title cards in this scene. Marley keeps motioning to himself; Scrooge keeps turning away or putting his hand through Marley to test the ghost's existence. This goes on for a half-minute until Marley loses patience, stands up, gestures, and disappears. He's replaced by another figure.
So Marley comes to warn Scrooge of punishment for vague crimes, but mostly they just argue about Marley's existence until Marley brings in a ringer. The movie doesn't reveal the punishment or what Scrooge needs to do to escape it. Maybe this new figure will explain...