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"Please, sir.... I want some... more."
Oliver Twist is a orphan in Victorian England who runs away from the town where he was sold to a family to London where he runs into the Artful Dodger, a young thief who introduces Oliver to Fagin, who lives in an abandoned building and leads a crew of pickpocket children.
I'd never seen a version of Oliver Twist besides Oliver and Company and didn't know the story so I was seeing the story for the first time.
And.... I can tell Oliver Twist is a great book with a great story... but as a musical..... ZZZzzzz..... ZZz.....
First off, Oliver Twist himself in this movie... what a SNOOZE of a protagonist! Coming off of Fiddler on the Roof where you have Tevye, possibly the best male lead in a musical I've ever seen.... wow this kid is lame. I hated his voice, too in all these sappy tearjerker songs.
This is the first musical I've seen where the songs and the musical numbers are the worst part of the movie. Aside from two songs and a reprisal of one of them I thought the soundtrack was TERRIBLY boring. It's the first time where I was checking the time remaining on the DVD and asking myself "How long is this goddamned song?" They just go on and on and on with these elaborate production numbers with loads of dancing and..... dancing in a movie without music I'm interested in...
Can't help but think of that bit in Amadeus where they take the music out of the ballet so it's just awkward dancing and the emperor says "Well, LOOK at them!"
However it brings me to what I liked which were the songs "Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" and "I'm Reviewing the Situation" which are Fagin's songs. THOSE I liked and could sing along with. Sung by Ron Moody, who was EXCELLENT as Fagin. Forget Oliver, I want the Fagin movie! This street urchin who LOOKS like the villain but you realize he's not a bad guy. He... and the story overall... remind me a bit of the way The Wire tells a story where you have these people at the bottom rung of society as your main characters.
But I loved Ron Moody in this and Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger. Now HE was awesome for a kid actor. Lightyears better than Mark Lester as Oliver. Fagin and the Artful Dodger, now THAT'S the team I wanted to spend the most time with in this movie.
And there's Oliver Reed as Bill Sykes, the villain of the movie. I had no idea Reed was in this and I thought he was terrific as a dead serious character who never sings once. He's a 100% dramatic character and Oliver Reed plays him like he's not aware he's in a musical. He's a great villain and I wish him, Fagin and the Artful Dodger's actors were in a non-musical version of Oliver Twist. Because the STORY is good... it's just a snooze of a musical.
2.5 hours, it's WAY too long. I was temped to skip scenes at several points in this movie. We don't even get to London and Fagin and the Artful Dodger for I think 30-40 minutes, now that is a dull way to start a movie.
I cannot believe this won the Oscar for Best Picture for 1968.
1968, a year with such memorable films as:
- Planet of the Apes
- Night of the Living Dead
- The Odd Couple
- Rosemary's Baby
- Once Upon a Time in the West
And of course... a movie that lost its nominated for Best Director to Carol Reed for Oliver!.... 2001: A Space Odyssey, now that makes me SICK! I don't know what the hell the voters of the Academy thought was so special about Oliver!.
A good story, and SOME good performances.... seriously, Ron Moody, Jack Wild and Oliver Reed were exceptional... but they can't save this movie for me.
I didn't care for Oliver!.
I think this is nice
this is one of those rare timeless movies great songs jack wild and ron moody live on though their work on this masterpiece and mark lester although retired will always be remembered as oliver twist jack as the artful dodger and ron moody as fagin with a great ensemble amazing acting this is a game changing musical one for the ages
It's a piece of shit. Violence, child poverty and boring songs do not make a good musical. This should not have been made.
Carol Reed has earned his place in cinema history by directing the classic film noir The Third Man (1949), yes it's rather dull before Orson Welles shows up, the Academy chose not to reward him for this but for the lovely but hardly iconic Oliver!. In the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was released they completely embarrassed themselves by rewarding a children's film over one of the most important films in cinema history. I will try, I really will, to separate this unfair win from my relatively objective review of the film because I quite enjoyed it. Of course the "Please sir, I want some more" moment is rightfully iconic and Ron Moody's performance as Fagin is on par with Anjelica Huston in The Witches (1990). This is definitely something that you should put on if you are trying to entertain kids because it has aged better than other classic children's films and has more substance than most.
Oliver Twist, Mark Lester, is thrown out onto the streets after complaining about the lack of food at his orphanage. He escapes to London after being mistreated by the man he is sold to and there he meets the ï¿ 1/2 1/2~Artful Dodger', Jack Wild, and a gang of other boisterous young men working under the evil Fagin, Ron Moody. After the Artful Dodger steals a wallet from a wealthy man, Mr. Brownlow, Joseph O'Conor, Oliver is blamed but at his trial he is taken in by Brownlow. Fagin's gang lurk in the background as the film follows the story of the classic Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist with musical numbers being spread throughout.
The music here is something special as "Food, Glorious Food", "Be Back Soon" and "I'd Do Anything" are earworms that get stuck in your head for days afterwards. The choreography is also something to behold as the boys cast as members of Fagin's gang are agile and light on their feet performing incredible dance numbers whilst projecting their choral voices. Reed makes sure to present these dance numbers with lots of wide shots which allows the audience to marvel at the impressive production design of the film and the assembly of talented young performances. This is the sort of wonderment that one needs to feel invested in a musical and I felt quite charmed and completely wrapped up in Oliver's plight whilst also accepting the inclusion of these musical numbers.
Moody's performance as Fagin is brilliant as he turns up the camp factor whilst also adding touches of genuine sadness and depth to his extremely villainous character who serves to beat down our sympathetic lead. When he drops the box of gold and desperately tries to recapture it he is pathetic and oddly worthy of pity as Moody conveys his character's emotional and physical breakdown through quivering of his giant shoulders and reddening of his pussy, reddening face. Moody would have been my second choice for Best Actor that year, after Alan Arkin in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) of course.
The darkness of the story is hinted at very well as it doesn't completely delve into the horror like Where the Wild Things Are (2009) but doesn't completely sanitize the difficult messages of the source material like The Pied Piper (1933). When Oliver is ostensibly kidnapped it is horrifying and it is clear that physical and possibly sexual abuse is occurring in the orphanage he has been raised in. Most of the film is treacly sweet on the surface but the gestures at abuse come close to representing the implied suffering of living in Britain at that time. It would have been nice as a slightly older audience to have more of this explicitly shown but for children it helps to keep them engaged as they won't either be too scared or too confused by this content.
As stated previously it is a travesty that Stanley Kubrick lost Best Director for 2001: A Space Odyssey and that the film itself lost to this objectively worse film. Where Oliver! is a solid film that builds on previous musical films it's adversary is a revolutionary production that has influenced so many modern movies it's ridiculous that it was not rewarded. Of the 1968 nominees I would call Rachel, Rachel a better film and I would have given it the Best Picture but 2001: A Space Odyssey is obviously the best film of the year Despite this major criticism I would urge you to watch this with young children if they like musicals.
The best inspiring musical movie ever made! With the best movie song ever sung: Consider Yourself!
An entertaining, if frivolous musical.
Carol Reed directed Oliver! (1968) with a perfect eye for displaying Onna White's meticulous and complex choreography. However, Reed does not account for much of Charles Dickens' plight of the poor and biting commentary on society's treatment of the impoverished. Dickens' story is here, but unfortunately you are more focused in on the songs, performances, and dances than the plot. If anything, the narrative feels secondary to incessant dance numbers.
For all of Reed's technical mastery and imaginative direction, Oliver! still looks like a play brought to life. Lionel Bart's score is beautiful and memorable, but I do not like many of the songs. Mesmerizing playful tunes will be followed up by meandering sentimental ones that feel unearned. I think the lyrics are not that catchy, nor the melodies. It's the lovely symphonic instrumentation that is captivating to me. Bart's music alongside White's choreography and shot by Reed's direction is the real draw. Even Oliver's voice sounds like a weak child compared to the boisterous zeal with which Ron Moody chimes in Oliver!
The acting is great from most of the cast. Ron Moody's Fagin is enchanting and engaging at all times. His severe appearance and charming personality still work. Oliver Reed's indomitable presence as Sikes cannot be denied, nor his dramatic weighted acted overpraised. Mark Lester is a sweet Oliver and acts the part well, even though his voice is too tiny like his stature to accompany the rest of the cast. Jack Wild is so likable and funny as the mischievous The Artful Dodger. Lastly, Shani Wallis is lovely as Nancy and wonderful at singing. Much of the background and supporting characters just feel like poor extras filling space.
I think Carol Reed was more suited to the noir suspense of a mystery like The Third Man (1949) rather than the musical silliness of Oliver (1968). Reed makes sure everything is well crafted, but it feels too sweet for such a sympathetic story.
Decent enough with some fantastic sets
A boring, old fashioned musical unworthy of Best Picture Oscar.
neat and essential for the subsequent generations..
3 Out Of 5
Oliver is a character driven musical about a boy who is adapting and learning as he outgrows difficulties that comes before him in various faces. The camera work is amazing as it lights up the whole screen and fills it up with an energy that can easily feed itself for runtime which may be overstretched but is undeniably glorifying to encounter.
It is rich on technical aspects like costume design, production design, choreography, art design, background score and songs whilst is a bit short on editing; it easily could have been of 2 hours. There isn't much work allotted to the writing section as most of the communication is conveyed through musical acts, which are again, beautifully shot and is immensely pleasing on screen.
The screenplay by Vernon Harris is neither gripping nor smart, but it certainly has a heart and reasoning in there for the audience to root for its sketchy characters. Carol Reed; the director, has done a decent work on pulling off this act on such a larger scale. The performance by the younger cast is amazing especially all the musical acts that they have pulled off and so are the experienced cast supporting them.
Oliver! is neat and essential for the subsequent generations but it may not be as entertaining or wise as it seems.