Alec Guinness did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jacob Marley in Scrooge.
Alec Guinness, much like Albert Finney as Scrooge, takes a unorthodox approach to his character. Marley is most often portrayed as a wailing man suffering from his terrible fate. In that regard he was best portrayed by Michael Hordern, but Guinness is not going to follow the rest because he's Alec Guinness. Guinness only has really two scene the one where he visits Scrooge, and another one that was probably added because again he's Alec Guinness. Guinness does quite a lot in these scenes, and as per usual with Guinness although this is definitely a PERFORMANCE sort of performance Guinness very simply is Jacob Marley in the film. Marley is a small role, but Guinness proves that cliche that I dare not utter.
Guinness firstly takes a very physical approach with the role as he enters Scrooge's chambers. There is a unnatural flow to the way he steps and walks. He moves his body as if he is actually apart from the gravity of the earth. Guinness does not rely on special effects, or even his makeup, but has his own body convey the ghostly nature of Marley. Guinness becomes the ghost with his movements and makes his entrance particularly striking and memorable. His ghostly ways are not his only deviations from the normal Marley method, as he also suggests a very different relationship with Scrooge before he died. Where most Marley is too consumed with his own grief to establish it, Guinness a more shrewd approach with his depiction.
Guinness basically says that Marley kind of looked down upon Scrooge and given his whole current predicament he has not exactly become any less sour in his mindset. Guinness always seems slightly condescending in his attitude to Scrooge as he talks to him in his perfect crackly voice. Guinness creates an underlying comedy, while still staying appropriately creepy, through this condescension. My personal favorite moment might be when Scrooge is accusing Marley of being a hallucination making Marley no more than an old potato. Guinness's reaction is hilarious as he shows Marley as being rather ticked off that his old business partner, who he did not care for, is daring to to talk back to him and calling him an old potato.
In his first scene Guinness leaves a great impression bringing the haunting quality, in the haunted house sense, that Marley should have while have the right type of underlying humor to the whole thing. In this version though Marley appears again during the Ghost of Christmas Future segment. Instead of just being shown his grave Scrooge in this version falls into finding himself in Hell, and greeted by who else but his old partner. Guinness changes his performance quite a bit but all accordingly with the plan. Being in hell, gravity is present once again for him and that otherworldly quality is no longer there. Guinness also removes his ghostly reserve and his passive aggressive behavior toward Scrooge becomes much more blunt.
Guinness is hilarious in this final scene as he portrays Marley relishing in every moment he gets to present Scrooge with the result of his greed. Every line Guinness delivers with a dry and extremely sharp wit. Guinness is wildly entertaining in his deviousness in the scene effectively turning the scene into a brilliant dark comedy when it might have simply been horror. I love every moment Guinness has in this scene, but my favorite has to be when he almost bursts out laughing when finally seeing what Scrooge's chain looks like. Like Hackman in Superman and Olivier in Sleuth, Guinness definitely shows off here, but like those performances it absolutely works. In his two scenes he steals the film and manages to be the greatest Jacob Marley even though his approach is most unorthodox.