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Scrooged is a 1988 comedy film, a modernization of Charles Dickens' novella, A Christmas Carol. The film was produced and directed by Richard Donner, and the cinematography was by Michael Chapman. The screenplay was written by Mitch Glazer and Michael O'Donoghue. The original music score was composed by Danny Elfman.

The cast includes: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Bob "Bobcat" Goldthwait, John Forsythe, Carol Kane, David Johansen, John Houseman, John Glover, and Robert Mitchum. It also features cameo appearances by Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, musicians Larry Carlton, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, and Paul Shaffer, actor/singer Robert Goulet, and actors Jamie Farr, Buddy Hackett, Lee Majors, and Pat McCormick as well as the Solid Gold Dancers. Bill Murray's real-life brothers, Brian, John, and Joel also appear in the film.

The film was marketed with references to the film Ghostbusters which had been a great success four years earlier in 1984. In the USA, the tagline for Scrooged was, "Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's three against one." In Brazil, it's named "Os Fantasmas Contra-Atacam" (The Ghosts Strike Back). In Spainmarker, the film was titled "Los fantasmas atacan al jefe" (The Ghosts Attack the Boss). In Italymarker, the movie was released as "S.O.S. fantasmi" ("S.O.S. ghosts").


Francis "Frank" Xavier Cross (Bill Murray) is a conceited, cynical television programming executive. He has found great success and wealth but only by becoming coldhearted and cruel. In the opening scenes, he can be seen working out in a room with a wallpaper border that reads "Cross: (n) A thing they nail people to".

His ruthless concentration on his lucrative, fast climbing career has cost him his true love, the warm-hearted Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). It has also alienated him from his family, having only an "at arm's length" relationship with his brother James (John Murray), and ruined any chance of his having a happy and fulfilling life. Frank grossly overworks his assistant Grace Cooley (Alfre Woodard), forcing her to constantly break plans with her family and neglect her mute son Calvin; and when a disturbing TV commercial is criticized by staff member Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), Frank responds by firing Loudermilk just before Christmas Eve.

When Cross is given the task of heading up a live Christmas Eve broadcast of A Christmas Carol, his life begins to mirror the story he's producing. The decomposed corpse of his mentor, 1970s-media mogul Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) — who had died of a heart attack during a game of golf — comes back to life and visits him to tell him the error of his ways, and to announce the visitation of three Ghosts later on.

The first ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen) appears as a maniacal New York City cab driver and takes Frank back to his childhood in 1955, to his late teens in 1968 when he had and his first job at the TV station, in 1969 for Frank and Claire's anniversary, and in 1971 the year in which Frank chose "Frisbee the Dog" and his job over Claire. The sequences show how Frank gradually became the person he is now.

The second ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) then appears as a life-size pixie who delights in punching and slapping Frank; she shows him how, in the present, his brother James misses him and Grace's family lives in poverty thanks to his stinginess.

After the visitation from the second ghost, Eliot Loudermilk, having degraded into a deranged alcoholic, storms the studio offices with a shotgun and tries to murder Frank. While hiding from him, the final ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Future appears, as a seven-foot-tall ghoul with a TV screen for a face, and shows Frank a future where Calvin has ended up in a mental hospital, Claire has become as cold and uncaring as he is, and only James and James' wife attend his cremation-style funeral.

While seeing the funeral, Frank ends up in the burning coffin, and as he's becoming burned, Frank finally sees the error of his ways and begs for a second chance. He awakens back in his office, right as the live broadcasting of "A Christmas Carol" is wrapping up. The reformed Frank rehires Loudermilk at a considerable salary increase, steps in front of the rolling studio cameras, and publicly wishes his viewers a Merry Christmas. Calvin urges him to add Tiny Tim's phrase, "God Bless Us, Everyone", finally breaking free of his mute condition. Claire appears in the studio and Frank reconciles with her, sharing a romantic kiss as Grace and the other television workers begins to sing "Put a Little Love in Your Heart".

Most of the characters in the movie represent characters in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Frank Cross is Ebenezer Scrooge and his brother James is Scrooge's nephew Fred. Elliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) is a timid yesman who is fired, and transforms into a deranged alcoholic. He represents the orphan boy that Scrooge accosts early in the story, then solicits help from to spread good cheer once he reforms. Frank's assistant Grace represents Bob Cratchit. Grace's son, who is withdrawn/autistic, is Tiny Tim. Lew Hayward, Frank's former boss, is Jacob Marley. Herman and his fellow indigents are the "portly gentlemen" who are collecting for charity and are refused financial help. Claire is Scrooge's former fiancée, Belle. The three ghosts have the same names. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a stereotypical loudmouthed New York cab driver with a Staten Islandmarker accent. The Ghost of Christmas Future appears as the grim reaper, with a TV screen for a face. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a campier female version of the ghost in the original story with a penchant for violence. There are other key characters that are in Scrooged but do not really represent anyone in the original story, such as Preston Rhinelander (Robert Mitchum), CEO of the company that owns Frank's network. He continually makes inane requests, such as including more household pets on Television broadcasts. Brice Cummings (John Glover), who also has no counterpart in the original story, is Frank's slimy, opportunistic assistant who is hired by Rhinelander (to Frank's dismay) and is after Frank's job.




On Siskel & Ebert & The Movies, Gene Siskel gave it thumbs up while Roger Ebert gave it thumbs down. Currently, the film has a 61% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Al Green and Annie Lennox's version of the song "Put a Little Love in Your Heart", featured in the film, reached #9 in the US, and was a top 40 hit in several countries worldwide.


  1. Siskel & Ebert & The Movies review

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