The Right to Be Happy (lost silent film adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’; 1916)

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The Right To Be Happy.jpg

Promotional artwork for the film.

Status: Lost

The Right to Be Happy is a silent Christmas fantasy film directed by and starring Rupert Julian, produced by Bluebird Photoplays and distributed by Universal that was initially released in 1916. The film is an adaptation of the 1843 Charles Dickens novella A Christmas Carol, and is the first film based on the novella to be feature-length (with an estimated runtime of 55 minutes).

Plot[edit | edit source]

The film stars Rupert Julian as Ebeneezer Scrooge, a curmudgeonly, elderly miser who is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley (Harry Carter). Marley chastises Scrooge for his unsympathetic ways, before warning him that he will be visited by three more ghosts later that same night. The Ghost of Christmas Past (Wadsworth Harris) is the first to arrive and shows Scrooge visions of his boyhood and early manhood days, including a Christmas party hosted by his boss Mr. Fezzewig and his wife (Lydia Yeamans Titus), and the ending of his relationship with his sweetheart (Francelia Billington).

Next to appear is the Ghost of Christmas Present (Richard L'Estrange), who shows Scrooge the events of the proceeding Christmas day, with Scrooge's employee Bob Cratchett (John Cook) staying at his meager home with his wife (Claire McDowell) and their son Tiny Tim (Frankie Lee), while Scrooge's nephew Fred (Emory Johnson) hosts a party in which Scrooge is the subject of much mockery and disdain from the guests.

Lastly, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Tom Figee) takes Scrooge to the days following his death, where his debtors such as Caroline (Roberta Wilson) are happy that he is gone, and most other people are apathetic and uncaring, with Scrooge ultimately dying unloved and unmourned. Seeing this awful sight, Scrooge, at last, realizes that he has lived a life of selfishness and greed, and begs for a chance to change his ways. He then wakes up, his encounters with the ghosts having seemingly been a dream. Nonetheless, he is thoroughly shaken and changed by the experience and spends Christmas Day (and every day after that) helping those less fortunate than he.[1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

The film was released in December of 1916 (the exact day is unknown, with some sources saying it was the 15th and others saying it was the 25th[2]), and has since been rendered entirely lost, with the Library of Congress confirming that the film is not present within any of its archives.[3] To date, various stills from the film are all that has surfaced from it.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]