BBC Radio 2 has short listed Scrooge starring Alistair Sim and directed by Belfast’s Brian Desmond Hurst’s for the public to decide its ultimate Christmas film on Christmas Eve.
Film director Hans Hurst was born and brought up in the roads just off the Newtownards Rd in East Belfast- the homeland of the Belfast shipyard workers. He lost his father and mother when he was young, worked in a linen factory on Bloomfield Street and joined the Royal Irish Rifles as a private in the first week of the First World War. He changed his name to Brian Desmond Hurst and fought at Gallipoli in 1915 where his battalion was virtually wiped out in one day. After the war he emigrated and studied art in Canada, Paris and New York. He then had a lucky break in Hollywood and was mentored by the legendary film director, John Ford, and they remained the greatest of friends for the rest of their lives.
Returning to the UK Hurst directed over 30 films over four decades over three continents. But it his Christmas classic Scrooge (1951) that will always stand of the test of time. “It’s a film made in 1951 when the film industry was decimated over here. Unlike Hollywood many actors were out of work and there was little ‘lights camera and action’” says Hurst’s nephew Allan Esler Smith. Brian had just made Tom’s Browns Schooldays and was next to make Malta Story and in between we have this complete classic. Smith adds “Its success is down to several factors. Most of the team of crew and cast on Tom Browns Schooldays stayed on for Scrooge so we have a great ‘team spirit’ in the adversity of 1951. But there was one magic ingredient- Alistair Sim who simply puts in the performance of his life. I’d say the snowy atmospheric camera work just nails it. But ultimately it’s all pure Christmas ‘magic’ which starts on Christmas Eve and finishes on Christmas day – it’s the story of redemption which gives hope to everyone.” Scrooge is adored in the USA where it was released as A Christmas Carol and it is now shown worldwide every Christmas Eve. The boy from East Belfast would be delighted at how his little film made in tough times has turned out – perhaps a little like Hurst himself.
The full short list is here and no doubt Scrooge would say humbug to some films on the list:
|Arthur Christmas (2011)
A Christmas Story (1984)
Die Hard (1989)
The Holiday (2006)
Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1947)
Jingle All The Way (1996)
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Love Actually (2003)
|Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1990)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1994)
The Polar Express (2004)
The Preacher’s Wife (1997)
Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
The Santa Clause (1995)
White Christmas (1954)
Voting closes 11pm on Tuesday 8 December and is via this link.