Karen Allen to talk after special screening of 'Scrooged'

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Karen Allen needs to see her films several times before she can kick back, relax and enjoy without critiquing them.

The versatile actress has a star-studded resume of movies to analyze, including "Animal House," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Scrooged," and "Starman."

Whether watching with friends or hosting special screenings of her most memorable moments on the silver screen, Allen said she has flashbacks of her bygone days.

"I have a huge amount of memories that put the film in context: 'Oh, they used that scene' or 'They cut the scene that way,'" she said in a recent Eagle interview from her South Berkshire home. "I also think about where I was in my life at the time and what I was doing."

The Berkshire International Film Festival will host a special 30th anniversary screening of "Scrooged" at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Allen will introduce the film, which stars Bill Murray as a modern-day Ebeneezer Scrooge and Allen as Claire Phillips, the long-lost love of Murray's character, Frank Cross, a cynical television executive more worried about his career than the people around him.

Allen also will have a behind-the-scenes conversation with Berkshire writer and BIFF board member Mary Mott and a question-and-answer period with the movie-goers. She has hosted similar special screenings of "Animal House," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in the past at the Mahaiwe.

"It's always great to come together and watch a movie like this in a theater," she said.

Directed by Richard Donner and based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," "Scrooged" debuted Nov. 23, 1988, to mixed reviews. Some critics found the film too dark, others called it a perfect take on the entertainment industry at the time.

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Frank Cross (Murray), president of fictitious IBC Television, wants to air an extravagant live production of "A Christmas Carol" on Christmas Eve. He also fires his right-hand man for balking at the idea of IBC employees working through the holidays.

Cross is eventually visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, who point out why he needs to change his ways for himself and those around him, especially Claire Phillips (Allen).

Phillips works at a homeless shelter and is snubbed by Cross when she goes to visit him at the network. After a visit from Ghost of Christmas Past, Cross tries to make amends by visiting Phillips at the shelter, only to show his disdain for the homeless.

"It's a dark, cautionary tale. It's really about the redemptive quality of love," Allen said. "It's almost the reverse of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'"

Allen said she found Murray, "funny and charming," unlike his character on screen, but challenging to work with on screen. Allen said working with him took some adjusting on her part, as the Saturday Night Live alum didn't rehearse and wasn't always on script.

"It became clear to me, what was on the written page, wasn't always going to be spoken," she said. "I came from theater, where you can't change a word without permission."

When filming wrapped up, Allen was unsure what to expect watching the finished product.

"When Bill and I were working, we were isolated from the story. Watching the rest of the landscape of the movie surprised me," she said.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233


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