Monday, 20 February 2012


Oliver!, 1968
Directed by Carol Reed
Nominated for 11 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Rachel, Rachel, Romeo and Juliet

This musical was one of my favourite musicals growing up. My grandparents owned it, and whenever we traveled north and stayed at their house for the weekend, we frequently would watch this movie. So naturally, I was excited when I read that it had won Best Picture. It's funny, realizing movies that you liked as a child or even a teen turned out to be Best Picture nominees/winners.

This musical is "freely based" on the classic book, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. It's about a young boy, named Oliver Twist. He's an orphan, and after asking for more gruel (he lost at drawing straw rope), he is sold to an Undertaker. After a short while of being abused and living miserable still, he escapes and heads to London to "seek his fortune" as he so puts it. Upon his arrival, he means Jack Dodger (The Artful Dodger- or just Dodger). Dodger is a young boy also, maybe Oliver's age or a bit older. He tells him he knows where he can get lodgings, and Oliver follows. But Dodger doesn't seem as innocent as he is. He's part of a band of crooks, run by a man named Fagan. Fagan lodges dozens of young boys, who pick-pockets for him. And with this group is a few adults, namely Bill Sykes (the crook everyone aspires to be), and Nancy (Bill's girlfriend, and friend to all the children in the ring).

Like I've stated before, this movie is a personal favourite, as I've grown up with it. So I've got a bit of a bias but I'll try to be good.

I've got to say, this film is pretty underrated in terms of Movie Musicals. Nowhere will you see it on top 10 lists, or hear people covering these songs. Yet this is probably my number 2 favourite musical. This song has some fantastic numbers. The opening, "Food, Glorious Food" is just so fantastic, and really shows the desperation of these orphans. And then Consider Yourself, and Who Will Buy? really show London as it was for Dodger, Oliver, and simply how it was back in the 1800's. It captured the different jobs and lifestyles people had so well, and showed just how different the rich and the poor/middle class were. And anything with Ron Moody (Fagan) was just brilliant. He has such incredible charisma, and just likeability (yet you hate him too), and he just is so crazy. Things like "Be Back Soon", "Pick a Pocket or Two", "Be Back Soon" and "Reviewing the Situation" are all so great too.

The story is really well done, pairing the story about a young, innocent boy escaping his miserable life, alongside the story of Bill Sykes, Nancy and Fagan's ring of young crooks. It is by no means a "children's musical" though it is about children. The story is a bit complex, which is what makes it such a winner. It's not overly complicated and dramatic and serious, but brings a bit of complexity and seriousness without losing the humour and the innocence of Oliver.

There were 2 acting nominations for this film. The first was for Lead Actor, for Ron Moody (Fagan). The second was a supporting actor nomination for Jack Wild (Dodger). Again, having grown up with the movie, it seems so funny to me that these 2 were Oscar nominated. But having watched it again today (after several years) I can completely see why. Ron Moody totally lights up the screen in all of his musical numbers, and is great as the not-so-tough crook. As for Jack Wild, he was also great as Dodger. He carried the air of a young child, though not innocent whatsoever, and a bonified crook. He was demanding, and tried hard to impress. He was the perfect choice for Dodger and he played him so well.

Overall I don't have anything negative to say about this movie. It's always been a favourite, and continues still to be. And currently has the top spot on my favourite Best Picture winner's that I've reviewed so far.

Update (1/17/14)
I recently rewatched the movie, and while I still love it, I would not rate it nearly as high as previously. While it formerly had a 82.5/100, I have now adjusted it to be 79.5/100. While the acting of Jack Wild and Ron Moody were great, that of Mark Lester was very weak.

Acting- 8/10     
Directing- 7.5/10     
Screenplay- 7.5/10     
Music – 10/10    
Visuals- 8.5/10     
Entertaining- 7.5/10    
Emotional Connection- 7/10     
Rewatchability- 7/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 7.75/10     
Overall Package- 7.5/10      

Total: 78.25/100

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