'A Christmas Carol,' a tale of greed and redemption, will blow away the competition at the box office this weekend and Bernie Madoff can only wish he could be there and learn. There are no first-run theaters in his hoosegow.

The latest telling of Charles Dickens' classic novella is one of four movies opening nationally today. But the other three -- the alien abduction thriller 'The Fourth Kind,' the 'Twilight Zone'-inspired fantasy 'The Box,' and the military intelligence spoof 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' -- will do well to sell as many tickets among them as 'A Christmas Carol' by itself.

Associating Ebenezer Scrooge with Bernie Madoff is unfair, of course. Scrooge never screwed anybody. He's just a rich old miser whose early failings have left him bitter and uncaring, nothing that a visit from three ghosts and a meeting with a lame child can't overcome. Its theme of greed and redemption and its moral of compassion for the underprivileged made the story an instant popular success in Dickens' day and makes it just as relevant in the current recession.