Scrooged is a 1988 American Christmas comedy film, a modernization of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The film was produced and directed by Richard Donner, and the cinematography was by Michael Chapman. The screenplay was written by Mitch Glazer and Michael O'Donoghue. The original music score was composed by Danny Elfman.

The film stars Bill Murray, with Karen Allen, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alfre Woodard, John Forsythe, Carol Kane, John Houseman, and Robert Mitchum in supporting roles. Murray's brothers Brian, John, and Joel also appear in the film.

The film was marketed with references to Ghostbusters which had been a great success four years earlier. In the USA, the tagline was, "Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's three against one."



Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a cynical television programming executive for the IBC network. He has found great success and wealth, but only by becoming cold-hearted and cruel. His ruthless concentration on his career has cost him his true love, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). It has also alienated him from his brother James (John Murray), his only living blood relative, and ruined any chance of having a happy and fulfilling life. Frank overworks his assistant Grace Cooley (Alfre Woodard), forcing her to constantly break plans with her family and neglect her mute son Calvin.

Frank is put in charge of IBC's bold plan to air a live, high-budget version of A Christmas Carol to air on Christmas Eve. Frank is stressed by the job, firing timid yes-man Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) on the spot over a non-compelling television advertisement. Frank's boss, Preston Rhinelander (Robert Mitchum), takes the liberty of hiring an assistant for Frank, Brice Cummings (John Glover), who is transparently after Frank's job. On Christmas Eve as the event prepares to go live, Frank is visited by the ghost of his mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), warning Frank of the error of his ways and that three more ghosts will visit him that evening. Prior to leaving, Hayward calls Claire on Frank's phone, and Claire later tracks down Frank wondering why he called after all this time, sensing he wished to make amends.

On the set of the show, Frank argues with the censor over the amount of cleavage that is showing from a Solid Gold Dancer's costume. All the while he is repeatedly screaming at one of the stagehands to stop hammering. The censor is knocked out cold by a careless stagehand and is promptly carried away. It's then that Claire calls out to Frank.

Frank is genuinely delighted when he sees Claire. Their meeting is interrupted by the choreographer who has the Solid Gold Dancers demonstrate their routine for the show. Then the animal handler tells Frank that he can't get the tiny antlers to stay glued onto a mouse. Frank suggests he uses staples much to the shock of Claire and the animal handler. He then yells at Calvin (whom he hasn't met yet) who is hiding in the corner, prompting Grace to come get him. She had thought it would have been fun for Calvin to see the live show while Frank questions if anyone is having fun.

Claire says she has to leave and gives Frank the card of the shelter where she spends most of her time. After watching her leave and trying to talk to a reporter over the phone, Frank has had enough of the hammering stagehand and yells at him one last time. The stagehand finally complies only to have the set collapse from the lack of support.

Frank encounters the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), who appears as a New York City taxi driver. The Ghost takes him to the past, showing him the Christmas where Frank's father, essentially a blue-collar version of Frank, tells him he must work for what he wants and accuses the men at the meatpacking plant of being lazy slobs feigning disability, a conversation that caused his mother to leave them. The Ghost shows Frank wasted his whole childhood watching television, and then when the opportunity came and he had met Claire, he opted to let the lure of a better job in television to outweigh his feelings for her, leading Claire to leave him. Frank realizes he has let his success overwhelm his life. After the Ghost leaves him he is back at work. Frank decides to see Claire, selflessly giving her time at a homeless shelter, and Frank comes to admire her and her work more. However, Frank's old personality still shows when he gets upset when two of the people volunteering their interrupt their talk with urgent problems.

Angry that she refuses to let them solve problems by themselves so they can talk, he leaves, telling her to scrape them off. She scolds him for his poor attitude, and he replies with a 'Bah Humbug'. Outside sitting by the door is the hobo, Herman, who asks Frank for two dollars to buy batteries for his electric blanket. Frank tells him to ask someone else for the money.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane), a pixie that delights in slapping Cross, shows Frank the struggles that Grace has with raising her family on a tight budget, and that he was oblivious to how Calvin had become mute after witnessing the murder of his father, and how Grace struggles with Calvin's problems whereas Frank says he knows plenty of doctors who could easily help Calvin. She also shows Frank the distance that has come between him and his younger brother James, at a Christmas party where James' wife says Frank has turned down multiple invitations, but James says he will always invite his blood relatives no matter what.

After returning to what he thinks is reality, Frank finds himself in a sewer. He then finds that not to far from him, sits the frozen corpse of Herman, whose request for money for batteries for his electric blanket he had declined, causing him to remark how vital a simple gift is to some. After Herman's only possession, a gold watch that plays Jingle Bells, falls from his frozen hand and begins to play, Frank yells at him, saying he should have stayed with Claire who would have taken care of him. It's only then that he manages to break out of the sewer and back to reality.

In both cases, Frank's encounter with the Ghosts leads him to disrupt the final rehearsals for the live show, and Brice is put in charge while Frank returns to his office. As he rests there, a drunk and disheveled (and very angry) Eliot shows up and attempts to shoot Frank with a shotgun. Frank takes shelter in an elevator, where the Ghost of Christmas Future, a Grim Reaper-like figure, awaits. Frank is initially grateful for the timing of the Ghost until the Ghost shows him the future, where Calvin is institutionalize having never spoken since, where Claire has forgone her charity for a life of wealth based on Frank's attitude, and where Frank himself has died, the only guests at his funeral are James and his wife.

Frank wakes back up in the elevator, and realizes what he must do. When the elevator opens on Eliot, Frank astounds the man by offering him his job back if he would help regain control of the show. As the live show draws to its conclusion, Frank interrupts the ending while Eliot holds the control room under his shotgun. Frank expounds on the true meaning of Christmas to the running cameras, apologizing to all those that he had done wrong, including James and Claire. When Claire hears this, she quickly makes for the IBC studios aided by the Ghost of Christmas Past, and the two reconcile their past. Eliot is able to convince Preston that this was all Brice's idea. When Frank finishes his speech, Calvin, who is on set along with Grace, approaches Frank and, speaking for the first time, reminds him of the important line "God bless us, everyone", astounding Grace and the others. With everyone happy, Frank leads the cast and crew in singing of "Put a Little Love in Your Heart", while Lew and the other Ghosts look on, congratulating Frank.


  • Bill Murray as Francis Xavier "Frank" Cross
  • Karen Allen as Claire Phillips
  • John Forsythe as Lew Hayward
  • John Glover as Brice Cummings
  • Alfre Woodard as Grace Cooley
  • Bobcat Goldthwait as Eliot Loudermilk
  • David Johansen as the Ghost of Christmas Past
  • Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present
  • Robert Mitchum as Preston Rhinelander
  • Nicholas Phillips as Calvin Cooley
  • Michael J. Pollard as Herman
  • Mabel King as Gramma
  • John Murray as James Cross
  • Wendie Malick as Wendie Cross
  • Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Cross, Frank and James' father
  • Joel Murray as Guest


  • Jamie Farr as Himself / Jacob Marley
  • Buddy Hackett as Himself / Ebenezer Scrooge
  • Robert Goulet as Himself
  • John Houseman as Himself
  • Lee Majors as Himself
  • Mary Lou Retton as Herself / Tiny Tim
  • Maria Riva as Mrs. Rhinelander
  • Anne Ramsey as homeless woman in shelter
  • Miles Davis, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn, and Paul Shaffer as street musicians

Production notes

Sam Kinison was originally slated to play the part of The Ghost of Christmas Past. The part eventually went to David Johansen due to his friendship with Bill Murray.


According to Murray, "...I thought it was an extraordinary script, but I saw a different movie from what the director (Richard Donner) saw. There was a fair amount of misery making it. We disagreed so much that neither of us was particularly happy with it."



Critical response

On Siskel & Ebert & The Movies, Gene Siskel gave it thumbs up while Roger Ebert gave it thumbs down. As of August 5, 2014, the film has a 66% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 39 reviews, with an average score of 6.9/10. The movie gained a mixed to positive reception.

Box office

The movie was a moderate box office hit taking in $13,027,842 on its opening weekend from 1,262 theaters. It went on to become the 13th highest grossing film of 1988 finishing with $60,328,558.

DVD & Blu-ray


Yule Love It! Edition DVD

Although the DVD had been available for some time, Paramount decided upon a special edition release titled the 'Yule Love It! Edition'. Announced for October 31, 2006, it was never released for unknown reasons.

Special features to be included were:

  • Audio Commentary by Richard Donner,
  • Bill Murray's message from the ShoWest exhibitors convention
  • "A Christmas to Remember" Featurette
  • "Updating Ebenezer" Featurette
  • "Bringing Ghosts to Life" Featurette
  • "The Look of Scrooged" Featurette
  • "On the Set with Bill Murray" Featurette


The Blu-ray was released on November 1, 2011 with a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and the film's theatrical trailer.

Soundtrack and score


A&M Records released the soundtrack to Scrooged in 1989. It features 9 songs.

Al Green and Annie Lennox's version of the song "Put a Little Love in Your Heart", featured in the film, reached #9 in the US, and was a top 40 hit in several countries worldwide.


Danny Elfman's score was released by La-La Land Records late in 2011 (a suite of his score had previously been included on Music For A Darkened Theatre: Vol. 1). Limited to 3000 units, the release contains 34 tracks including source cues (tracks 30-34) used in the film, but not part of the written score. Tracks in bold appear in the previous released suite; asterisked tracks are completely unused in the film, double-asterisked tracks contain unused material. Tracks 22-29 are bonus tracks; track 33 was an arrangement created for Trading Places.

  1. Main Titles§§/Terrorist Attack (2:34)
  2. Eliot Gets Fired/Loud and Clear§§/Frank’s Run (1:22)
  3. Montage: Frank’s Award and Eliot on the Street (1:39)
  4. Lew’s Arrival (2:03)
  5. The Hand Grab (1:51)
  6. Lew’s Reprise (:51)
  7. Claire’s Theme I/Claire’s Theme II* (1:15)
  8. Set Collapse* (:20)
  9. A Horror in Chez Jay/Highball/Waiter Ablaze** (1:20)
  10. Wild Cab Ride (1:33)
  11. Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay§/Cupid’s Arrow/Change of Expression* (1:33)
  12. Eliot Gives Blood/Christmas Present* (1:02)
  13. Fairy (contains "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) (2:15)
  14. Toast to Frank (:32)
  15. The Big Freeze (1:26)
  16. Showtime at IBC (1:08)
  17. Family Portrait/Ghost on Screen (:49)
  18. Eliot Stalks Frank† (1:08)
  19. Asylum/Luncheon/Crematorium/On Fire (3:48)
  20. Hallelujah Chorus* (G.F. Handel)/The Romp† (2:18)
  21. The Big Speech (1:21)
  22. Loud and Clear (alternate) (:30)
  23. Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay§ (alternate) (:43)
  24. Toast to Frank (alternate) (:34)
  25. The Big Freeze (alternate) (1:25)
  26. The Big Freeze (alternate mix) (1:27)
  27. Asylum (no choir) (:59)
  28. Crematorium (more percussion) (1:30)
  29. The Big Speech (alternate) (3:12)
  30. Frank’s Promo (:51)
  31. Frisbee the Dog (:57)
  32. Chez Jay String Quartet - W.A. Mozart (2:43)
  33. Joy to the World - G.F. Handel/F. Watts, arr. Elmer Bernstein (:55)
  34. Jingle Bells - James Pierpont, arr. Danny Elfman (1:48)

§ composed by Henry J. Sayers, arr. D. Elfman

§§ contains “Jingle Bells” (James Pierpont, arr. D. Elfman)

† contains "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots)

See also

  • List of ghost films



External links

  • Scrooged at the Internet Movie Database
  • Scrooged at Box Office Mojo
  • Scrooged at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Scrooged at AllMovie

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