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Edward D. Venturini
Ben Hendricks Jr.
Oliver's mother, a penniless outcast, died giving birth to him. As a young boy Oliver is brought up in a workhouse, later apprenticed to an uncaring undertaker, and eventually is taken in by a gang of thieves who befriend him for their own purposes. All the while, there are secrets from Oliver's family history waiting to come to light. Written by
There have been many versions of Dickens' story, "Oliver Twist". While I have not seen them all, I have seen the very famous David Lean version as well as the musical "Oliver!". Despite being handicapped by a shorter running time and being a silent, the 1922 version stayed amazingly close to the original story and included some sub-plots that are usually omitted in films. I don't think these omissions in later films are necessarily bad as Oliver being shot and Mr. Monks were not vital to the success of the films. But, if you are a purist, then you'll probably love this early version.
I will not try to recap the story. You probably know it already and it's one of the most well-known stories in the English language. Instead let's talk about the film's merits and deficits. The film looks good. The costumes and sets are very nice and I like how ratty the kids' clothing looked--not like Hollywood costumes but like rags worn by the poor. The acting was also quite nice. Jackie Coogan sure looked pathetic and small--and that helped with the role. Also, Lon Chaney was given top billing and I worried that he might overdo the role of Fagin--putting too much into the role. But, he was just fine and the cast in general was quite good. The only deficit of the film is the running time. At a bit over 70 minutes, the story goes by a bit too quickly and I would have liked the film stretched out a bit more. But, as the overall film went very well, this is only the smallest of complaints. Well worth seeing and one of the better silents.
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