Nine year-old orphan 'Pip' Pirrip lives with his harridan older sister and her hen-pecked but good-natured blacksmith husband Joe Gargery in rural, Regency-Period Britain. While visiting his mother's grave near the moors, Pip is set upon by Abel Magwitch, an escaped convict from a prison ship whose intimidating appearance causes Pip to steal food and drink from the Gargeries on his behalf. Although Magwitch had initially threatened Pip, a bond quickly forms between the hardened criminal and the boy, so when the convict is recaptured, he admits to stealing the food, but does not implicate his young accomplice. Shortly thereafter Pip receives an invitation from Mrs. Havisham, a wealthy recluse living in a crumbling mansion to play with her niece Estella. He finds her haughty and cruel but becomes attracted to her beauty as his visits continue. Some time later the Gargeries receive a visit from the condescending lawyer Mr. Javers, who offers Pip an education and allowance that will allow... Written by
Stuart Walker also directed Universal's other foray into Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) Both were expensive failures and hastened the fall of the Laemmle regime at the studio. Ironically, MGM's two Dickens adaptations, "A Tale of Two Cities" and "David Copperfield" produced at the same time, were huge hits. See more »
Before Miss Havisham died, she told me her teachings were false... that love is worth all the suffering and pain that goes with it.
Do you believe that, Estella?
You once told me that you loved me, Pip.
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In the end credits, Valerie Hobson, who played Estella as an adult in David Lean's 1946 version of "Great Expectations", is credited as having played Biddy, a rather prominent character, in this 1934 version, but Biddy never appears at all. See more »
There have been too many adaptations of Great Expectations and other Dickens classics that have failed to miss the fact that the eminent Victorian author's novels were not intended as sentimental, romantic fairytales but as scathing criticisms of the less-than-progressive aspects of life in 19th century Britain,namely the exploitation of the impoverished masses by the hypocritical idle rich. This 1934 travesty is about as accurate a realization of Dickens' original vision as Free Willy is a realization of Melville's vision for Moby-Dick. The scenes involving young Pip are played out like an Our Gang comedy complete with cloying music and the rest of it is filled with wooden acting,overly high key lighting, and an abundance of peculiarly well-fed poor people- this last aspect a phenomenon that plagued other mis-begotten Dickens farces of the '30s such as Monogram's Oliver Twist and the MGM A Christmas Carol. Every time this shows up on cable(a rarity at least in Madison,thank God) or is borrowed from a library,Dickens must do a backflip in his grave. All said, if you want to see DICKENS' Great Expectations stick with the Lean version or the respectable 1989 Disney version.Leave this one to rot in Miss Havisham's wedding cake.
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