In 1964, Rod Serling was invited by the United Nations to update Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol for an anxious Cold War era America still recovering from the assassination of JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis. What he wrote was essentially a movie-length episode of The Twilight Zone. Instead of Ebenezer Scrooge, A Carol For Another Christmas focuses on Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden), an American tycoon whose heartbreak over losing his son during WWII has caused him to withdraw from involvement in international affairs. Three ghosts visit him with visions of the past, present, and future... but they are nothing remotely like anything Dickens could have imagined:
Carol For Another Christmas was broadcast on ABC on December 28, 1964. It was never aired again on network TV, nor was ever it released to video. Today, the only places you can see it are the Paley Center in Manhattan and UCLA's Film and Television Archive. It has, however, been shown on TCM twice over the last couple of years, and will air again tonight at 12:45 AM EST. You should check it out, if for no other reason than the amazing cast; along with Hayden, it stars Eva Marie Saint, Robert Shaw, Britt Ekland, Ben Gazzara, and Peter Sellers. (Peter Fonda played the son but his scenes were cut for time.) Henry Mancini did the music; the director was the great Joseph L. Mankiewicz, of All About Eve fame.