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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
Maybe too short and rushed, but it looks great and Coogan and Chaney are memorable
While not the best film version to me(the David Lean film), it is a very interesting one for reasons other than and as well as being silent. At 74 minutes though, I did think it was too short, and because it is such a lengthy and complicated novel with a lot going on, what was translated on screen, which was as much as possible seemingly, came across as too rushed with some characters disappearing before we even get to know them. However, it is absolutely great visually, the production design and lighting look wonderful and the atmosphere is beautifully evoked. The film is very well directed by Frank Lloyd, who manages to stage scenes, crucial or not, with much impact. Sykes' fall and Fagin alone in the cell were really well done, but the standout was Sykes pushing Nancy to the floor, a fine example I agree of where a character disappears replaced by another, in this case Fagin. The cast are fine. Most of the cast I am not as familiar as familiar with as the two big names, but they do their job well. George Siegmann seemed like typecasting to me but it is a job that he does well. Gladys Brockwell is a vulnerable and suitably brash Nancy, and the children are well cast. But this Oliver Twist is most memorable for Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney. Coogan, who broke my heart in The Kid the previous year, is a sweet and innocent Oliver, while Chaney, looking great, gives a largely physical(relying a lot on gestures, facial expressions and mannerisms) yet commanding account of Fagin while avoiding the trap of making the character stereotypical. All in all, impressive visuals and a memorable Oliver and Fagin makes this an interesting and well-done if not definitive Oliver Twist. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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