Film & Water #123 – Scrooged


Episode 123: SCROOGED

Rob welcomes back writer and pop culture historian Chris Cummins (SCI-FI EXPLOSION) to discuss Richard Donner's SCROOGED, starring Bill Murray! Yule love it!

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14 responses to “Film & Water #123 – Scrooged

  1. Wonderful topic and guest host! I wish we had more Christmas movies with Lee Majors.

    Scrooged always struck me as just slightly out of “cult status.” It’s swims in its shores, but just doesn’t quite get there – less so now – which is a damn shame.

    More from this guy – unless it overlaps with my films.

  2. I feel I need to give this movie another watch based on this.

    Back when I saw it, in the theater, I thought the ad lib speech at the end was too long, too rambling, and not touching enough. I kept wondering if Murray was hoping they’d give him the ‘wrap it up’ sign so he could stop trying to be sentimental. That ending has left such a ‘what the hell was that?’ memory in my mind that I’ve never revisited it.

    Of course, I was nearing peak adolescent cynicism at the time. So maybe this broken down working man Anj would find more to it.

    Thanks for covering. I’ll let you know if I hunt it down!

  3. While I don’t have the same passion for this movie as you gentlemen, I do remember enjoying it when I first saw it. So, I was surprised to learn that it hasn’t gotten the love and attention that it seems to deserve. Thank you for putting this film back on my radar.

  4. I never would have guessed that SCROOGED is considered unsuccessful or that it has been degraded by most of the cast and crew. I always assumed it was a holiday classic, because in my family it absolutely was.

    My family always loved Christmas specials and movies. Okay, by family, really I mean me, my brother, and my mom. My dad worked for UPS and Christmas was the busiest time of the year, so he was a lot like Frank Cross’ dad on Christmas Eve, and the Ghost of Christmas Past every other time of the year…

    Throughout the week leading up to Christmas we watched our holiday VHS mixtape consisting of Rudolph, Frosty, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown, etc. And on Christmas Eve night, before we went to bed, the three of us always watched whatever version of A Christmas Carol/Scrooge was being broadcast; usually it was the Alistair Sim version, but every once in a while… freaking George C. Scott!!! Curiously, I don’t think we ever watched It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. To this day, I’ve only seen it once. Maybe it was our love of Halloween seeping in, but for Neil and me, Christmas wasn’t Christmas without a ghost story.

    Anyway, on the night of Christmas Day, after we exchanged our gifts, drove into the city, and had dinner with extended family, we all (four of us) gathered around that night watching our final Christmas movies of the season. It was usually one of two (sometimes both): the oft-mentioned-on-this-episode-but-for-some-reason-derided NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, and SCROOGED. (Years later, THE REF would join this set.)

    I love Scrooged. I loved listening to you guys talk about it. It is absolutely a Christmas classic…

    But you didn’t mention my favorite line: “I’ve never liked a woman enough to get her twelve sharp knives.”

  5. What about Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas? How come that hasn’t become an annual Xmas tradition?? I loved it as a kid but have not seen it in decades!

  6. Oh, man, it’s so nice to hear from others who love Scrooged as much as I do. It’s definitely one of the best Christmas movies, and certainly far superior to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s also nice to know that I’m not the only one who would love to watch any of those holiday specials advertised at the start of the movie.
    As for other Karen Allen movies for you guys to discuss, there’s always Animal House…

  7. I had no idea Scrooged was pretty much unloved in the US – I saw it when it came out and the audience loved it, it soon began turning up in TV and has been a fixture since then… it turns up in Best Christmas Film lists from the likes of Radio Times, the Daily Mirror… it’s definitely part of the conversation.

    It’s one of those I’ll always watch when it’s on. The only thing I don’t like about it is Claire, not because I don’t like Karen Allen, but how she’s presented in the film as a living saint, I expect to hear heavenly choirs every time she’s on. I know she and Cross were together when he was nicer but I can never believe she’d look at him twice as he is ‘now’.

    Never mind one Christmas episode next year, take a leaf from Supermates’ House of Franklin-stein and give us a month of festive fun… I volunteer for the most depressing Christmas film ever, One Magic Christmas!

  8. You surprise me. I would never have guessed that Scrooged was somehow an underappreciated Bill Murray film or a forgotten Holiday classic. That’s just not its reputation around MY house.

    By all means, give us the Billy Murray special next year. It’s tons of fun.

  9. This jumped the line in my podcast queue, as I caught the end of Scrooged on AMC the night before I listened. I have some things to contribute to your discussion of this movie’s status and reputation. I’ll use me as an example. I have seen this film before, and enjoyed it, but I haven’t seen it in at least 13 years. That’s how old my daughter is. I share many of my interests with her, and our family is mad for A Christmas Carol. However, I do not want her to see this one yet. I don’t want to watch a movie with her that frankly talks about a woman’s nipples, and who may or may not want to see them; I don’t want to watch a movie with her that shows sexual intimacy and pot smoking; I also think that some scenes are yet too gruesome and violent. I think that other families may feel the same way, and perhaps that’s part of why this hasn’t become the classic that you think it should be. There is also the humor. For all of the wonderful antics of Bobcat, Carol Kane, David Johansen, etc. there is so much subtler humor. To an audience younger than your/our generation the references to network television, Buddy Hackett, Jamie Farr, Cathy Rigby, etc. are going to miss the mark. I think that kind of “knowing” humor, the Michael O’Donoghue stuff I expect, is going to go over the heads of a broad younger audience.
    Please understand that I really like this movie, and I look forward to watching it unedited (the Michael J. Pollard death scene was cut from AMC’s showing), but I think many of its strengths keep it from being a general audience fave.
    I want to share a couple of observations I made while watching it last week. First, immediately following “Scrooged” AMC played the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol. The juxtaposition was striking as the opening sequence, busy London snow-covered streets, looked so corny! It looked like a television movie that Frank Cross would have aired. Absolutely no subtlety! It wasn’t a joke, but it felt like it was almost dumbed-down for the American TV audience. The style, if not the substance, that “Scrooged” was lampooning.
    The other observation is how absolutely stunning Karen Allen looks in this movie. She is luminous.
    Keep up the great work, Rob and Company!

  10. It’s been a few years since my last viewing of Scrooged, but back in the day, I must have watched it about a dozen times. Couldn’t agree more how underappreciated it is.

    The only explanation I can give is the movie having such extremes, it doesn’t fit into a neat box. It’s a comedy, but not a kid-friendly comedy like Home Alone, so that leaves out channels like ABC Family. And it’s darker than NL’s Christmas Vacation, so Comedy Central might avoid it. AMC wouldn’t consider it “deep” enough. But all of those biases are also rooted in Scrooged being a Christmas movie, not a movie that takes place at Christmas. (e.g. Die Hard, Lethal Weapon) So it absolutely must only be shown in December, which is stupid. I could watch this movie in July and enjoy it just as much.

    And how about the dark tone? It’s easy to forget that Charles Dickens was not exactly “Mr Fun Times” as an author, and while I haven’t read A Christmas Carol, I bet it’s a very dark and heavy story. While lots of movie versions and other adaptations have been great, they inure us to the terror and soul-searching the original Scrooge experienced, and the watered down versions even more so. I always think this movie captures that, while balancing it with humor so it doesn’t become an outright horror movie.

    Thanks Rob and Chris for reviving my love of this movie. I’m definitely hunting it down ASAP.

    1. Watch the 1951 classic version of A Christmas Carol (Scrooge, in the UK), and the first half of it treats the material as straight up horror, so you’re not wrong about Dickens.

  11. Scrooged is one of my sister’s favorite films, so it comes up every year at Christmas. I was unaware it was kind of shunned away from the modern holiday classics list. That’s a shame. It did get glossed over in the TCM Christmas movie special from a few years back that they run every year.

    I’m a sucker for any version of Dickens’ tale, so of course I’ve always enjoyed this one. I will admit to being more of a Christmas Vacation guy, but I can relate to Clark Griswold’s overzealousness for the holidays than Frank Cross. Sorry!


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