A masterpiece known for the graphic power of its imagery, its vivid atmosphere, its brilliant cinematography and design, superb cast (with the exception of a miscast Valerie Hobson as Estella, who does her best, and who said later that Lean was cold and unhelpful), and two of the best character performances ever - Francis L. Sullivan in the lynch-pin role of the lawyer Jaggers, bringing his wit, energy, intelligence and eccentricity in full-force to the part (no Jaggers has ever or will ever match him), and Finlay Currie as the convict Abel Magwitch. Alec Guinness is delightful as Herbert Pocket - the idea for this adaptation came from Lean's seeing Guinness's adaptation for the stage. (Arrested for cruising in a men's lavatory, Guiness gave his name at the station as Herbert Pocket.) Also, a terrific child performance from Anthony Wager as the Young Pip; a terrific one, too, from a 17 year-old Jean Simmons as Young Estella. No one really loves the ending, but the film remains, after 75 years, the best adaptation of Dickens on film (though there are moments in Lean's Oliver Twist - Francis L. Sullivan collaborating with Lean again in the role of Mr. Bumble - that have equal power and delight).
Riveting, with a top-notch cast. Widmark is outstanding as a small-time hustler driven by the dream of controlling wrestling in London. Fabulous, too, is Francis L. Sullivan, as a shrewd, witty night club owner who unfortunately loves his scheming wife - played masterfully by Googie Withers, with an energy that nearly incinerates everyone she comes near.