The other night, Cara said we should watch a Christmas movie. I suggested, “How about the Western version of Christmas Carol?” She said she’d never heard of one. So she, John, and I poured some egg nog and sat down to watch Ebenezer, starring the great Jack Palance, on YouTube.

Even in this low resolution version, the TV movie holds up and proved to be fun holiday entertainment. Regardless of any bad 90s special effects and some cheezy television writing, Ebenezer stands the test of time for two reasons: its original take on the Dickens material and its leading man. The filmmakers completely embrace the new Western setting for this Scrooge story. They could have gone the easy, lazy route by just barely transforming the original story to a frontier landscape but instead they work hard to spin this version into the Old West from Ebenezer’s place of business to the identity of the ghosts to the clever ways they incorporate robberies and gun fights. It had John and me thinking of how we might adapt the classic story into a new Christmas Western (we just might one day!).

Jack Palance may have won the Oscar for City Slickers but this might be his best, late career performance. That actor does it all here, from his usual hardened delivery to showing a much more vulnerable side. It’s a more versatile performance than his award-winning Curly and one that shows an engaged, passionate Palance in his older years.

The movie had us all, or at least Cara and I, tearing up by the end. It’s a classic story that has been done so many times and this is one of the most unique tellings.

Watched on YouTube.