Friday, December 13, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)

I must correct myself from the last piece I wrote. It turns out that Jack Frost, which we reviewed last time, was in fact the last Rankin-Bass special sold to NBC. The Stingiest Man in Town, which is our next subject, came before Frost by exactly one year.

Stingiest is a remake of an Alcoa Theatre live-action production from 1956, and both versions are loosely based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which has been adapted so often, the rights may as well be in the public domain. Seriously. Tom Bosley (Happy Days) is the narrator, as B. A. H. Humbug, so named for Ebenezer Scrooge's pet phrase. Stingiest contains more songs than the average Rankin-Bass production, which might explain why it was replaced by Jack Frost the next year----it wasn't a ratings hit.

Walter Matthau, in a rare television performance, is Ebenezer Scrooge. Robert Morse & Paul Frees, who'd work together again the following year on Frost, are also in the cast for this one. Unfortunately, the complete special isn't available on YouTube, so we can only offer this opening sample.

The fact that this aired on a Saturday night might also contibute to the lack of ratings and subsequent cable airings. Rating: C.

No comments: