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Oliver! (1968)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 29
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 5

It has aged somewhat awkwardly, but the performances are inspired, the songs are memorable, and the film is undeniably influential.


Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 3

It has aged somewhat awkwardly, but the performances are inspired, the songs are memorable, and the film is undeniably influential.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 55,657

My Rating

Movie Info

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

Aug 11, 1998

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (5) | DVD (9)

The focus of the movie is so wide, and the logistics of the production so heavy, that Oliver himself, dutifully played by 9-year-old Mark Lester, gets flattened out and almost lost, as if he had been run over by a studio bulldozer.

February 24, 2014 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's plenty of mileage left in the famous story.

February 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

After a season of watching inane twitching in the name of dance, the viewer is most happily greeted by Onna White's choreography, an exuberant step-by-step exploration of Victorian zeal.

February 19, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In retrospect, it seems emblematic of the triviality Reed descended to in the last years of his career. The Third Man it's not.

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Reed is craftsman enough to make an efficient family entertainment out of Lionel Bart's musical, but not artist enough to put back any of Dickens' teeth which Bart had so assiduously drawn.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A treasure of a movie.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comment (1)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even if you're not a fan of the musicals, Oliver is so witty, so bright and so endearing that even the iciest viewer should start melting in its corona.

February 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Today, it works well as a child's introduction to Dickens.

February 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

In adapting Lionel Bart's lavish musical for the screen, director Carol Reed tempered the sticky sentimentality with suitably Dickensian scenes of squalor.

February 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Glorious musical based on Dickens' Oliver Twist.

December 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Has little bite.

March 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Reed's memorable and epic musical provides good family fun, some great musical numbers and in Fagin, the Artful Dodger, and Sykes, some of cinema's most beloved unsavoury characters.

February 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Overrated at the time of release, the Oscar-winning Oliver! is a skillful but unexciting movie musical, one that softens considerably Dicken's famous novel, and not helped much by the mediocre staging of the production numbers.

December 13, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Oliver! is better than most screen musicals of the 1960s, a period when oversized, poorly rendered songfests virtually killed the genre.

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

An intense and inspired musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story about an orphan's amazing ordeal on the streets of the big city.

December 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Makes an epic impact, fully exploiting cinema to chase the intensity of a live musical while also allowing time for intimate expression of character.

October 10, 2005
Groucho Reviews

Handsome, moving version of famed musical

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Memorable, and responsible for inspiring a cottage industry of ragamuffin musicals a la Newsies.

March 16, 2004 Full Review Source:

Eye-filling and lively, but it was better on the stage

January 11, 2004
Kalamazoo Gazette

A great family musical, spirited and youthful, with moments of true sadness, tragedy and joy -- full of rosy cheeked dirty-faced angelic-voiced boys with plenty of mischief inside them.

April 27, 2003 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Oliver!

Hard to sit through.
September 4, 2011

Super Reviewer

This multi-Oscar winner is the film version of the satge musical adaptation of the classic novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. As you might expect, it's a sumptuous well-done British affair filled with excellent sets and costumes, good music, and some decent performances. As for how it fares as an adaptation? Well, pretty decently. It's certainly entertaining, though I can't say I've ever really been all that into Oliver Twist (in any form). That makes my praise seem odd no doubt, but I'm the sort of person who can give praise to something when it is well done, even if it's really not my thing.

The casting is good, as are the performances, but special credit must be given to Oliver Reed as Bill Sykes, a chilling performance that the Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker) rightfully included on his list of the Top 11 Scariest Performances. He's a real creep, and Reed's take is wonderfully done. Shani Wallis's Nancy and Ron Moody's Fagin are pretty good too. Mark Lester is capable as the title character, but his voice (mostly singing) is a bit much for me. I know I can't fault him for not hitting puberty by the time this film was made, but damn. It's not distracting enough to take the movie down though.

Carol Reed, the director behind the masterpiece that is The Third Man, does a really good job of bringing this musical to life on the big screen. There's nothign really cinematically showy going on, but it's solid and well played nonetheless.

If you happen to like musicals or the source material, then yeah, give this one a go. Unlike almost all 1960s movie musicals, this one is at least under 3 hours.
August 30, 2011
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

not my type of film
February 13, 2011
erika bruhns

Super Reviewer

Extremely enjoyable musical, perfectly cast with great songs and a great story from Dickens.
March 11, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Oliver Twist: Please sir, I want some more.
    2. Mr. Bumble: [thinking he must not have heard right] What?
    3. Oliver Twist: Please sir, I want some... [pauses hesitatingly] more?
    4. Mr. Bumble: [surprised beyond belief] More?
    – Submitted by Joshua T (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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