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This 1934 version of "Great Expectations", directed by Stuart Walker, has
been largely ignored because it pales in comparison with the masterpiece
that David Lean made from the same story in the 40's. By comparison, this
earlier version is plain and undistinguished, but it is not a bad film in
its own right. It is a faithful rendering of the Dickens novel, which is a
fascinating story that in itself makes any reasonable movie version worth
The main thing that limits the effectiveness of this version is that most of the acting is so routine. Dickens' characters are always very distinctive (if not peculiar), and to be most effective in a movie they must be slightly exaggerated. Characters like Pip, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, and Estella all have quirks and/or inner conflicts that are very important in making the story work. That is what made David Lean's two adaptations of Dickens stories such brilliant films - he was able to get his actors to portray the characters in exactly the way Dickens created them. But here, only Henry Hull as Magwitch fully realizes the potential of his character.
Still, the story itself is told well enough. The novel was one of Dickens' best, a brilliant study of the main characters: Pip, whose entire life depends on a stroke of good fortune that he misunderstands; Miss Havisham, who spends her whole life reliving one awful experience from her youth; Estella, torn between Pip's warm innocence and Miss Havisham's cold psychological cruelty; Magwitch, desperately trying to leave behind something positive after a sordid, dishonorable life. Although this film version does not realize the full potential of all of these characters, it does at least make sure that we can see who they are, and can ponder the possibilities for ourselves.
The great Lean version of "Great Expectations" is now very hard to find, and for those who like Dickens' stories, this version, while by no means a worthy replacement, is at least a watchable substitute.
It is hard to compare this version or any other version of Great Epacation because of the numerous ones made ,and the fact that they were all made in different time periods. The main idea though is to get the point of the novel across. This version does this in a very timely manner as well as appealing. While it may not be a blockbuster it is a fair interpretation of the movie. It should not be taken lightly. It is in fact a great movie for the use in teaching of the book. Were is in the place I view this fine production. Even though it is not the best I want to reinforce again it should not be forgotten ,and should be remembered as a classic.
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.
This is perhaps the worst film version of a Dickens novel ever made by
a major studio. All of the dramatic power of the story is drowned in
syrupy music and mostly mediocre to awful acting. Phillips Holmes is
terrible as the adult Pip. Holmes, never a good actor, is alternately
stiff and hammy.
Henry Hull, usually quite enjoyable when hammy, and actually quite good normally, is unsatisfying compared to Finlay Currie as Magwitch (Currie appeared in the classic 1946 David Lean film). Jane Wyatt conveys nothing of the icy-yet sympathetic haughtiness of Estella. Florence Reed is just fair as Miss Havisham, especially when compared with Martita Hunt's absolutely unforgettable 1947 performance, and Francis L.Sullivan showed much more enthusiasm playing Jaggers in the 1946 film.
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