The ABC's of Film Noir
The ABC's of Film Noir

Scrooged (1988) Classic Movie Review 96

Scrooged (1988)

Scrooged (1988)

Oh, in fact, he just said that you were a flatulating butthead?


Welcome to today’s show, Scrooged (1988), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Today’s movie is Scrooged (1988). This is a wonderful comedy starring Bill Murray and Karen Allen. It is a modern retelling of “A Christmas Carol.”


Robert Mitchum played Preston Rhinelander big boss of the network. Mitchum was covered in Episode 54 – Out of the Past (1947).

Bill Murray played Francis Xavier Cross AKA Frank Cross. This SNL funnyman went on to star in some of the finest comedies of the last 45 years. Murray was born in Illinois in 1950. He and his brothers worked as caddies while attending Loyola Academy. He attended Regis College in Denver but left after he was arrested for possession of pot.

Murray joined the National Lampoon Radio where he worked with future Saturday Night Live cast members Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi. When they went to SNL, Murray went to Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. When that show flopped, he was eventually able to join his friends at “SNL” 1977-1980.

Murray then began making a string of comedies that are loved by a generation. These movies include Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Tootsie (1982), Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), Scrooged (1988), What About Bob? (1991), Groundhog Day (1993), and Space Jam (1996).

Murray performed well in the remake of The Razor’s Edge (1984) and heralded his more serious acting chops. Other movies include Lost in Translation (2003), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Broken Flowers (2005), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), his wonderful cameo in Zombieland (2009), and Hyde Park on Hudson (2012).

Karen Allen played Claire Phillips. Allen was Illinois in 1951. She never considered acting until her early 20s. She enrolled at the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg in New York. Her first major role came in the cult classic National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978).  Following this hit Allen was out for a time due to an illness. She continued to make movies but her next big hit was in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).  This time she took left for a time to peruse personal projects before hitting it big again with Starman (1984) directed by John Carpenter and co-starring Jeff Bridges.

Scrooged (1988)

Scrooged (1988)

Allen returned to stage work and did quite well. She hit again with Scrooged (1988). Allen worked in television and continued to make movies. She played the mom in the beloved The Sandlot (1993), starred in The Perfect Storm (2000), and reprised her role as Marion Ravenwood in the utterly horrible Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). Allen continued to work in television and movies.

John Forsythe played Lew Hayward the deceased boss of Frank Cross. Forsythe was a handsome actor known for his television work. Major shows include “Bachelor Father” 1957-1962, Dynasty “1981-1989”, and Charlie on “Charlie’s Angels” 1976-1981. John Forsythe died at age 92 in 2010.

Bobcat Goldthwait played hapless employee Eliot Loudermilk. Bobcat was born in 1962. He is a comedian known for his high-pitched voice. His first film was Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985). He is better for voice work in movies Hercules (1998), and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (2000). Most recently he has been directing the Jimmy Kimmel show on ABC.

David Johansen played the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Born in New York City, Johansen joined the cross-dressing New York Dolls band. He had a more mainstream signing career as the David Johansen Group and as Buster Poindexter. He was in a couple of movies like Let It Ride (1989) and Scrooged (1988) during this time period. He was also on “Saturday Night Live” for the 1975 season.

Carol Kane played the psychotic Ghost of Christmas Present. Kane was born in 1952 in Ohio. She was educated mostly in boarding schools and in 1966 she did her first theater work. Her first film was Carnal Knowledge (1971). Later films include Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Hester Street (1975), Annie Hall (1977), and When a Stranger Calls (1979).

She played the wife of Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman) on “Taxi” 1981-1983. Other films include Pandemonium (1982), Racing with the Moon (1984), Transylvania 6-5000 (1985), Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), Ishtar (1987) either the best or worst movie ever depending on who you ask, The Princess Bride (1987) where she was amazing, Scrooged (1988), The Lemon Sisters (1989), and Addams Family Values (1993). Most recently she has been on Broadway in the role of Madame Morrible in the musical “Wicked”.

Alfre Woodard played Grace Cooley, Frank’s secretary and mother of Tiny Tim. Alfre was born in Oklahoma in 1952. After college in Boston, she spends some time on Broadway before heading to Los Angeles. Her first film was Remember My Name (1978). She had many great roles such as Grand Canyon (1991), K-PAX (2001), Primal Fear (1996), Star Trek: First Contact (1996) where she did an amazing job as person from the past pulled into an outer space adventure, Dinosaur (2000), and 12 Years a Slave (2013).

Brian Doyle-Murray had a small role as Earl Cross, father to Frank. This worked out well because Brian is Bill’s brother. Brian is known for The Razor’s Edge (1984), Groundhog Day (1993), Caddyshack (1980), and Wayne’s World (1992).

Scrooged (1988)

Scrooged (1988)

Buddy Hackett as Himself playing Scrooge

John Houseman as Himself

Jamie Farr as Himself

Lee Majors as Himself

Robert Goulet as Himself

Mary Lou Retton as Herself

Solid Gold Dancers as the Scroogettes


This great comedy begins with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves working away at the North Pole as Christmas gets nearer. Suddenly Santa’s home is attacked by a black-clad army of psychos as Santa bellows “incoming.” Mrs. Claus yells “Let’s get um!” She is followed by the elves to a locker of banana clipped M-16 rifles. Remember in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) where the elves take down the bad guys with baseball bats? Just on cue, a white-clad, mini-gun carrying Lee Majors arrives on a snowmobile. Santa wants to stay and fight but Lee says the world can’t live without him. Then you see it is a commercial for “The Night the Reindeer Died,” IBCs Christmas Eve programming. This is followed by another promo for “Robert Goulet Cajun Christmas.” The third promo is for America’s favorite family in “Father Loves Beaver.”

Frank Cross, the youngest, rudest, and most arrogant president at IBC looks to his room full of sycophants for comments. They all cower. He then asks to see the “Scrooge/A Christmas Carol” promo for Christmas Eve. That’s right he has scheduled a live worldwide broadcast for Christmas Eve just like that Bing Crosby did in White Christmas (1954). The promo features John Housman reading by the fire, Buddy Hackett playing Scrooge, Jamie Farr, the Solid Gold Dancers, and former Olympian Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim. Cross flies into a rage, only Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) dares to speak for the promo. Cross has his assistant Grace (Alfre Woodard) cue up his promo. It has atom bombs and acid rain. He orders it ran every hour. Eliot speaks out about how bad the ad is. As soon as Eliot leaves Cross orders him fired and his bonus withdrawn even though it is Christmas. As Eliot is tossed outside, Cross goes over his Christmas list giving either a towel or a VCR. He selects towel for his only brother. He tells Grace she will get a towel instead of a bonus this year as well.

Cross finds out that Preston Rhinelander (Robert Mitchum) the IBC big boss is coming down. This is the only person he fears. Preston is out of touch and wants to start programming for cat and dog views of the future. As Preston goes up Brice Cummings (John Glover) hops out of the elevator and you can tell he is a no-good phony right off the bat.

Grace tries to leave to take her son to the doctor but Cross makes her work late. His brother comes by to invite him to Christmas dinner. He steals a cab from an old lady on the way to pick up a humanitarian award. Eliot is on the street drinking and getting wet. Grace comes back from the doctor and the problem is that he doesn’t talk.

Back in his office, strange thinks start to happen to Cross. The door explodes and Cross’ old boss Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) comes in as a ghost. Lew has been dead 7 years and he warns Cross that he is in trouble. He also tells him that he will be visited by 3 ghosts, with the first one coming at noon the next day (Christmas Eve). The ghost Lew holds him out the window and drops him. When he wakes, he is on the floor of his office. The phone dials his true love, Claire (Karen Allen) from 15 years before. He leaves her a frantic message.

You are given a glimpse of Grace’s home life. They are poor but happy as she raised the children without a father. In the morning, Cross finds out that his promo killed an old lady. He is happy about the publicity.

Cross is called to the set to handle a problem with the network censor. The solid gold dancer’s shirts are too low. Claire arrives and calls him Lumpy. Claire is full of life and happiness. Cross sees a small boy on the set and threatens to call the police. It is Grace’s son that can’t talk. Claire wants to know why Cross is so mean. Claire gives him a card before she leaves showing that she works at a homeless shelter.

Scrooged (1988)

Scrooged (1988)

Cross goes to lunch with Preston. Preston tells Cross that he has hired Brice to help take care of some of Cross’ workload. Brice shows up and he is an ass. Cross starts hallucinating and looking for the expected ghost. Cross runs out and jumps in a taxi. It just happens to be driven by the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen). The ghost takes him on a taxi ride to 1955. On the way, the ghost steals a bottle of booze from Eliot. Cross’s father is a gruff meat packer. Frank wastes the early part of life watching television.

The ghost takes Cross to 1968-1971. He and Claire meet, fall in love, and are living together. But Cross is obsessed with getting ahead. It all comes to an end when his boss Lew takes him out drinking and he skips a Christmas party with their friends.

Cross goes back and continues to work on the live show and has another freakout. Eliot gives blood for money and passes out in the garbage where he is robbed of his coat. Cross goes to the homeless shelter to apologize to Claire. However, just like that mean old Ike Turner, the mean old Frank Cross came out. He tells Claire she is wasting her life taking care of the unfortunate.

Cross goes back to the set and Brice is running everything. When he is alone, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) arrives. She is slap happy ballerina and is performing The Ballbreaker Suite. She hits Cross in the face with a toaster among other things. She knocks him to Grace’s house where he sees how happy they are even though the young boy Calvin has spoken since witness his father murder five years prior. She then shows his brothers family having fun at Christmas. Grace has sent a VCR instead of a towel. Finally, she takes him to a frozen sewer home of one of the men he met at the shelter. The man has frozen to death. The ghost has gone and Cross is trapped. He finally breaks through a door and lands back on the set.

Preston has replaced Cross with Brice. The show begins downstairs. Frank goes to his office and is trying to recover when Eliot comes in with a shotgun. Eliot imitates Elmer Fudd as he hunts Cross. Cross dives into the elevator which is filled with The Ghost of Christmas Future. The ghost shows Cross that he continues on his path Claire will harden and turn from helping people, Calvin will be institutionalized, and Cross will die early and alone.

Cross breaks out of the burning coffin and Eliot is waiting. Cross offers him his job back with a raise and an offer to take Cross’s office. Eliot says he doesn’t like Cross’ office. They go down to the set where Eliot holds a gun on Brice in the control room. Frank takes over the show and talks about how bad it was to schedule a live show on Christmas Eve. He apologizes to Claire and his brother on the air.

Cross gets the crew singing and Calvin utters the line “God bless us, everyone.” Preston calls in to find out what is going on with the show. Eliot tells him that Brice said he was a flatulating butthead, and that he never felt that way about a man before but he likes you in a certain way. Preston kicks his cat.

The Ghost of Christmas Present delivers Claire to the set. Cross takes Claire onto the set and introduces her to the world. They all start singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” The dead man from the shelter and ghost sing along. At the end, Preston is happy and Cross will get to keep his job.

World-Famous Short Summary – Man struggles with the holidays.

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Beware the moors

Scrooged (1988)

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