How many dramatizations of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” have you seen? The Alastair Sim 1951 movie, “Scrooged” starring Bill Murray as a network television executive from 1988, The Muppet’s version with Michael Caine as Scrooge from 1992, “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” with Vanessa Williams from 2000… There are so many of them. Add the TV shows, spoofs and references to “A Christmas Carol” that appear in other holiday entertainment and it’s an exponential growth curve with all sorts of Scrooges.
And all sorts of ghosts, too!
I’m particularly fond of David Johansen’s portrayal of the ghost of Christmas past as a taxi driver. He was hysterical. I’m dating myself here, but I saw David Johansen in his Buster Poindexter incarnation playing at the Bottomline in Greenwich Village. He is really funny!
But getting back to the ghosts.
Jacob Marley — Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased business partner — is the first of the ghosts to appear in the story. Jacob is rattling his chains and warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late. (I love Aimee Mann’s song “Jacob Marley’s Chain.”) In most of the movies, he’s the least effective of the ghostly characters and is dismissed as indigestion caused by a bit of old cheese. But I think Jacob Marley is a great ghost. He’s got a clear message, he’s certainly creepy and he’s reaching out to someone who was fond of him in life — perhaps the only person who was fond of him in life?
The entire concept of ghosts and hauntings in fiction is unfinished business — avenging a murder, completing a life’s work or, as with Marley, assisting a loved one still among the living. Marley is a great ghost, so, although I have no idea how, when or in what context, I’ve decided to write some kind of Jacob Marley inspired ghost story. No, I’m not indulging in my own variation on the well-worn path of Christmas Carols — I’m contemplating a story that revolves around Marley and not Scrooge.
Is this a good idea or am I just overreacting to all the holiday songs in the air?