MGM Studio News (December 3, 1938)

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X I N E Boyish Charm Wins English Lad Tiny Tim Roie In 'Carol' An entrance into Hollywood via radio, a wistful charm and a rare gift for act- ing won Terry Kilburn, English boy ac- tor, one of the most im- portant roles ever vouschafed a youngster, when he played Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Born in London, No- vember 25, the son of Thomas Kilburn, Terry Kilburn was raise d in a London suburb. There were many youngsters from different parts of England, with dif- ferent dialects, in school. Quick at mim- icry, Terry learned to imitate them all. Director Sam Wood was looking for the Lancashire boy for “Lord Jeff.” Terry played the part. A contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer followed. Terry is four feet, four inches high, weighs eighty pounds, has brown hair and large gray eyes. In school his best studies are drawing and literature, and he has distinct talent at illustrating. ♦ ♦ ♦ FIRST EDITION The first edition of Dickens’ “A Christ- mas Carol” was used to check details of the script for M-G-M’s screen play. Dickens’ Letter Reveals 'Christmas Carol Ideal A memento of Charles Dickens is today a highly-prized treasure of Edwin L. Marin, who directed the author’s “A Christmas Carol” at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is Dickens’ own explanation of why he wrote the story. “I have endeavored,” wrote Dick- ens, “to raise the ghost of an idea which will not put my readers out of humor with themselves, each other, with the season, or me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.” It is dated 1843, just after completion of the writing of the story, which was first published for the Christmas holidays in 1 844. Gene and Kathleen Lockhart Are Cast In Real Life Roles Gene and Kathleen Lockhart, man and wife off the screen, play one of the most important “man and wife” assignments of the screen, as Bob Cratchit and his wife in “A Christmas Carol.” They play the parents of Tiny Tim, the role enacted by Terry Kilburn in the Christmas story by Charles Dickens, pro- duced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Edwin L. Marin directed “A Christmas Carol,” with Reginald Owen, named for the part by Lionel Barrymore, as Scrooge. Barrymore, slated to portray it, did not yet feel well enough to essay the role. ♦ ♦ ♦ Pudding Scene Tough On Actors A Christmas plum pudding blazing in brandy after the traditional old English style provided Terry Kilburn, Gene Lock- hart, Kathleen Lockhart and others one of the hardest eating tasks they ever es- sayed in a picture. The scene was the Yultide dinner of the Cratchits in Dickens' “A Christmas Carol.” Because the blue flame of the burning pudding would not photograph, the delicacy was coated thick with salt —and the actors had to eat it. ♦ ♦ ♦ Terry’s New Deal Terry Kilburn, who appears as Tiny Tim in “Christmas Carol,” has been signed to a new M-G-M contract. The boy’s picture debut was in “Lord Jeff.” ♦ ♦ ♦ OLD CAROLS SUNG Modern music mingles with old Eng- lish themes, hymns and carols such as “Adeste Fideles” and “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,” in the elaborate score completed by Franz Waxman for "A Christmas Carol.” ♦ ♦ ♦ WINS 4000-MILE HUNCH The “hunch” of a friend caused James Harrell to drive 4000 miles to try to get a job acting in Hollywood, and the hunch proved correct. An hour after he arrived, Harrel was cast for the fat man in “A Christmas Carol,” produced by Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer. He was a radio per- former, but had never been on screen. Director Sees Ideal Material for Screen In Dickens 1 Writings “Charles Dickens in his day was more modern than many of our modern dra- matists. He wrote stories that can’t be photographed with crazy camera angles and weird light effects, for they are so human that only natural photography can express them. A great many of us who think we’re modern are just beginning to learn this on the screen.” Marin So declares Edwin L. Marin, the director who brought to the screen Dickens’ Yuletide classic, A Christmas Carol.” “Producers, writers and directors,” says Marin, “today are beginning to realize that it’s not necessary to have spectacle, thrills or sophistication to make a great picture. Human beings and the truth are still the best ways to the hearts of audi- ences. Dickens unerringly hit on these elements in his stories. And this abso- lutely human touch makes a Dickens work a perfect model for the screen.” The players in “Christmas Carol” in- clude Reginald Owen as Scrooge, Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, Barry MacKay and Lynne Carver in the romantic leads, Ann Rutherford, Lionel Braham, Matthew Boulton, Charles Coleman, Lauri Beatty and others, mostly English or Canadian players. Joseph Mankiewicz produced the picture, which follows the Dickens original with absolute fidelity. Barrymore Tribute Gives Owen Famous Dickens Xmas Role “To Lionel Barrymore I owe thanks for the finest gift I have ever received.” So declares Reginald Owen. The gift he so prizes is the role of Scrooge he played in “A Christ- mas Carol,” Charles Dickens masterpiece. Barrymore had been slated to play it. His doctor w a n te d two months’ delay. The stu- dio offered to postpone Owen it ur| til the Christmas season a year away. Barrymore begged that it be not delayed. If ever the world needed Dickens’ message of peace on earth and good will toward men, he in- sisted, that time is today. “My friend Reginald Owen is a great actor,” he suggested, “and I can think of nobody who could play the part as well. In addition, he is an Englishman, and I can only see an Englishman playing Dick- ens.” So Owen received the role. “All of us in the cast played our parts almost with reverence,” says Owen. “There is something about the story that reaches deep down into the heart. There is an exaltation in helping convey its message. And in our cast, practically all British, the work became a labor of love.” ♦ ♦ ♦ TINY TIM CREW Terry Kilburn, who plays Tiny Tim in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “A Christmas Carol,” grew two inches while playing in the picture. HIGH COST OF LIVING? NOT IN DICKENS' DAYS! The high cost of living which today’s housewives complain of had no terrors in London in 1845, at least according to a “breakdown” of Charles Dickens’ estimates. A Christmas dinner for seven, with roast goose and all the “trimmings” cost $2.03, according to research that went into the filming of “A Christmas Carol” at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This represents the dinner of Bob Cratchit and his brood in the picture. The dialogue, taken directly from the book, shows Cratchit buying a goose for five shillings eighteen pence, potatoes for eight pennies, oranges for four, apples for six, mixed nuts for four, chestnuts for three. Translated by Director Edwin L, Marin into American money this repre- sents: Goose -$1 -56 Potatoes -16 Oranges -08 Apples *12 Mixed nuts ,08 Chestnuts 06 TOTAL $2,03 In addition Marin estimates that the gin used in the gin punch described by Dickens cost about twelve cents and the lemon one. Reginald Owen plays Scrooge, and Terry Kilburn Tiny Tim in the picture. “A Christmas Carol,” adapted from Dickens’ novel by Hugo Butler, is the realization of a life’s dream by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the producer of the picture. Ever since Mankiewicz graduated from college and entered motion pictures as a writer, he believed that the great human message of this story— Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men—was what the world needed more than anything else. With the aid of Edwin L. Marin, who directed the picture, Mankiewicz has achieved an absolutely faithful interpretation of this literary masterpiece. Authentic in every detail, it represents relentless research of four years.