Monday, November 1, 2010

The Stingiest Men in Town

The Stingiest Man in Town (1956)

Fans of vintage holiday fare will appreciate Stagedoor's budget price release of the Original Television Soundtrack of this 1956 adaptaion of Charles Dickens classic morality tale A Christmas Carol. Originally shown as an episode of The Alcoa Hour this pre-Scrooge musical version of Dicken's novel stars crooner Vic Damone as young Scrooge and Basil Rathbone as the older, haunted Scooge. Rathbone gives one of the finest performances of his later career. Rathbone, and The Four Lads as a sort of Greek chorus of carolers, are my musical highlights of the show, though everyone involved is quite good.

While a bit old fashioned compared to more recent musical adaptations Stingiest Man still succeeds thanks to the supurb performances of it's veteren cast and a strong set of tunes that include a number of should-be classics.

Amazon | Napster | MOG

The Stingiest Man in Town w/ Narration

Amazon also has a MP3 download of what I'm assuming was a later attempt to adapt the songs from the show into a spoken word recording. There's a narration, by what sounds like a much older Rathbone, linking the songs and while I imagine it's not as good as watching the original or even a straight recording it does help bring the story together a bit better than the song only soundtrack. There are two parts, each about a half hour in leangth - probably each side of the original LP - and it'll set you back, as of this writing, $1.78.

The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)

More than 20 years after The Alcoa Hour Stingiest Man was broadcast Rankin-Bass preiered an animated version of the musical starring the vocal talents of Walter Matthau, Tom Bosley, Robert Morse Dennis Day, Paul Frees and Theodore Bikel - an awesome assemblage indeed. The animated version is available as part of the Classic Christmas Favorites DVD along with nine other (mostly) classic holiday specials.