Thursday, December 17, 2020

“Another Idol Has Displaced Me” | Fredric March (1954)

I forgot to mention something last year about the Shower of Stars adaptation that's pretty important. When Scrooge first met the Ghost of Christmas Past, he remarked that "You resemble her so much." When Belle is introduced at Fezziwig's party, it's confirmation that Scrooge was referring to her. Sally Fraser plays both roles and there's even a moment at the party where Old Scrooge looks at the vision of Belle, then stares closely at the Ghost to make sure he's not imagining it. Having the Ghost resemble someone from the Ghost's time period is a gimmick that this version will come back to, too.

As noted last year, this version takes big liberties with the Fezziwig scene, not only by introducing Belle during it (which a lot of adaptations do), but also by turning Fezziwig into a wealthy man with the ball taking place at his mansion. He's not snobbish about his guest list though and has invited his employee Scrooge as well as Belle, whom we learned last year is a clerk in a shop. I didn't think of it at the time, but maybe it's a shop that Fezziwig owns, making her another of his employees. That would explain her presence at the party. Though she could also be a family friend of some kind.

Anyway, this version continues the changes by setting the break-up scene at Fezziwig's party. Belle certainly isn't in mourning as we intrude mid-discussion on an argument she's having with Young Scrooge. "But that is not what I meant," he's saying, suggesting that their disagreement is over something that he thoughtlessly said.

She goes right into, "Oh, Ebenezer, I've seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one." So apparently whatever he said betrayed some kind of greedy or miserly sentiment. They have an extremely abbreviated version of the traditional conversation, ending with her saying, "You'd never choose a dowerless girl. Perhaps you'll never choose any." That last observation of course turns out to be true, but I don't understand why she says it. And she runs off to another room before Scrooge can ask her any questions. He doesn't follow her, but just marches off to a different part of the house.

This is all even more awkward being set at Fezziwig's party. Earlier, Young Scrooge was looking forward to seeing Belle and dancing with her. And when she came in late, she also seemed happy and eager to see him. They smiled all through their song together. So it doesn't at all look like Scrooge's feelings toward her have grown cold. Instead, what it looks like is that she showed up at the party already feeling bad about their relationship, but was good at hiding it. Scrooge probably has become more greedy and clutching recently and it's made her unhappy, but she's put a brave face on it until he said whatever he said to set her off. That's a believable scenario to me and especially heartbreaking because it takes Scrooge by such surprise. I mean, seconds ago they were singing together about their dreams for the future and now... they have no future. 

As Old Scrooge watches, the Ghost disappears from his side, which makes it weird that he waits until then to shout, "No more!" and back his way through the doors that he and Ghost had come through. This leads Scrooge into his apartment and we cut to the street below his window where a town crier is calling the two o'clock hour.

1 comment:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Not much to say, but it is interesting to see all the different ways a scene can be interpreted.


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