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Oliver! (1968)

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Movie Info & Cast

Synopsis

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.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Cast

  • Ron Moody
  • Shani Wallis
  • Oliver Reed
  • Harry Secombe
  • Mark Lester
  • Jack Wild
  • Hugh Griffith
  • Joseph O'Conor
  • Peggy Mount
  • Leonard Rossiter

Did You Know?

Trivia

  • In the original Broadway production, the Artful Dodger was played by future Monkee Davy Jones who was also nominated for a 1963 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance.
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Goofs

  • Bill Sykes' shadow does not match his actual steps when we first see him.
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Quotes

    • [about Oliver]
    • Mr. Bumble: Mother came to us destitute. Brings a child into the world, takes one look at him and promptly dies - -without leaving so much as a forwarding name and address!
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Metacritic

100

Sir Carol Reed's Oliver! is a treasure of a movie. It is very nearly universal entertainment, one of those rare films like The Wizard of Oz that appeals in many ways to all sorts of people.

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
63

It’s an uneven film with a tone that veers from playful to menacing. Despite numerous simplifications of the source material, it’s long and, with only a few exceptions, the songs are unremarkable and feel more like filler than organic elements of storytelling.

Metacritic review by James Berardinelli
James Berardinelli
ReelViews