Oliver!

Oliver!

4.3 12
Director: Carol Reed

Cast: Carol Reed, Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed

     
 

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Inspired by Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, Lionel Bart's 1961 London and Broadway musical hit glossed over some of Dickens' more graphic passages but managed to retain a strong subtext to what was essentially light entertainment. For its first half-hour or so, Carol Reed's Oscar-winning 1968 film version does a masterful job of telling its story almost… See more details below

Overview

Inspired by Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, Lionel Bart's 1961 London and Broadway musical hit glossed over some of Dickens' more graphic passages but managed to retain a strong subtext to what was essentially light entertainment. For its first half-hour or so, Carol Reed's Oscar-winning 1968 film version does a masterful job of telling its story almost exclusively through song and dance. Once nine-year-old orphan Oliver Twist (Mark Lester) falls in with such underworld types as pickpocket Fagin (Ron Moody) and murderous thief Bill Sykes (Oliver Reed), it becomes necessary to inject more and more dialogue, and the film loses some of its momentum. But not to worry; despite such brutal moments as Sikes' murder of Nancy (Shani Wallis), the film gets back on the right musical track, thanks in great part to Onna White's exuberant choreography and the faultless performances by Moody and by Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger. The supporting cast includes Harry Secombe as the self-righteous Mr. Bumble and Joseph O'Conor as Mr. Brownlow, the man who (through a series of typically Dickensian coincidences) rescues Oliver from the streets. Oliver! won six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and a special award to choreographer Onna White.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
It’s not uncommon for a literary classic to arrive on the screen muddled, mangled, or altered beyond recognition. And certainly this flamboyant, musical take on Oliver Twist expands on the source material. Yet, one can’t help but imagine that even Charles Dickens would savor the cinematic delight that is Oliver! right down to its titular exclamation point. Director Carol Reed, skillfully opening up Lionel Bart’s 1960 stage adaptation, wrests once-in-a-lifetime performances from his cast. Mark Lester stars as the workhouse waif who escapes the confines of his orphanage and falls in with a larcenous band of street urchins. His best pal is the Artful Dodger (Jack Wild), an impudent, cunning little rascal who is the right-hand man, so to speak, of wily old Fagin (Ron Moody in an Oscar-nominated performance). Lester is simultaneously mischievous and angelic as Oliver; Wild invests the Dodger with a self-assuredness far beyond his years; Moody portrays Fagin without the malignance usually associated with that character; and Oliver Reed plays Bill Sykes with all the menacing ferocity one expects of that unregenerate evildoer. The songs -- including “Food, Glorious Food,” “Consider Yourself,” “I’d Do Anything,” and “You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” -- remain fresh and lively. Reed’s adroit handling of Vernon Harris’s screenplay doesn’t miss a beat. Every opportunity to punch up a scene is taken, and it’s hard to imagine how Oliver! could possibly have turned out better. The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences had the same opinion, awarding the film six Oscars, including Best Picture of 1968. Some films retain their excellence but show their age. Oliver! isn’t one of them -- you’ll find it just as exhilarating today as audiences did back in the '60s.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Oliver! proved that the British film industry could produce high-quality musicals at least as good as the best musicals from Hollywood. The bad news was that they had proven their ability to make a type of film that was quickly fading from style. It was the first musical for veteran director Carol Reed, who pushed the edge of what was considered acceptable family fare and gave the film a dark, Dickensian undertone that provided a rich contrast to its surface-level cheeriness. On Oscar night, Oliver! took home five awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. With the era of the musical coming to an end, the film had little lasting influence, though in the mid-1980s its production numbers were savagely, but not entirely without affection, lampooned in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/11/1998
UPC:
0043396020689
Original Release:
1968
Rating:
G
Source:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ron Moody Fagin
Shani Wallis Nancy Sikes
Oliver Reed Bill Sikes
Harry Secombe Mr. Bumble
Hugh Griffith The Magistrate
Mark Lester Oliver Twist
Jack Wild Artful Dodger
Clive Moss Charlie Bates
Peggy Mount Widow Corney
Leonard Rossiter Mr. Sowerberry
Joseph O'Conor Mr. Brownlow
Hylda Baker Mrs. Sowerberry
Sheila White Bet
Megs Jenkins Mrs. Bedwin
Wensley Pithey Dr. Grimwig
Fred Emney Chairman
John Baskcomb Workhouse Governor
Norman Pitt Workhouse Governor
Arnold Locke Workhouse Governor
Frank Crawshaw Workhouse Governor
Elizabeth Knight Charlotte
Veronica Page Oliver's Mother
Henry Kay Doctor
Jeffrey Chandler Actor
Norman Mitchell Arresting Policeman
William Smith Actor
Edwin Finn Actor
Ian Ramsey Actor
Robert Bartlett Fagin's Boy
Kenneth Cranham Noah Claypole
James Hayter Mr. Jessop
Peter Locke Fagin's Boy
Kim Smith Fagin's Boy

Technical Credits
Carol Reed Director
Lionel Bart Score Composer,Screenwriter
John Box Production Designer
Colin Brewer Asst. Director
Allan Bryce Special Effects
John Cox Sound/Sound Designer
Phyllis Dalton Costumes/Costume Designer
Vernon Dixon Set Decoration/Design
George Frost Makeup
Johnny Green Musical Direction/Supervision
Vernon Gilbert Harris Screenwriter
Ralph Kemplen Editor
Terence Marsh Art Director
Oswald Morris Cinematographer
Ken Mugglestone Set Decoration/Design
Eric Rogers Score Composer
Onna White Score Composer,Choreography
John Woolf Producer

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