When David's father dies, his mother remarries. His new stepfather Murdstone has a mean and cruel view on how to raise a child. When David's mother dies from grief, Murdstone sends David to... See full summary »
After a boiler explosion aboard an aging ocean liner, a man struggles to free his injured wife from the wreckage of their cabin and ensure the safety of their four-year-old daughter as the ship begins to sink.
Andrew L. Stone
When David's father dies, his mother remarries. His new stepfather Murdstone has a mean and cruel view on how to raise a child. When David's mother dies from grief, Murdstone sends David to London to work for a living. When David escapes to his aunt Betsey his life starts to get better. Written by
The main title of the film shows the novel's full, extended title: "The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observation of David Copperfield the Younger", rather than the title by which it is more popularly known, "David Copperfield". Poster advertising for the film, as well as reviews and all popular references to it, used the shortened title, as did later television listings for it. See more »
Enjoyable Version of the Story, With a Very Good Cast
With a very good cast and a well-conceived adaptation of the novel, this version of "David Copperfield" is enjoyable in its own right, and it does a good job of preserving the most important themes of the original. The quirks and characteristics of most of the characters are captured effectively by the cast. Freddie Bartholomew is engaging in the title role, and the cast members as a whole work together and complement each other well.
It would be hard even to list all of the good performances. Edna May Oliver almost seems to have born to play Dickens's kind of strong-willed but caring female character. W.C. Fields is perhaps somewhat different from the novel's conception of Micawber, but he is quite entertaining, and he gets plenty of good lines. Characters like Uriah Heep, Mr. Dick, the Murdstones, and several others could have come straight from the novel. As the adult Copperfield, Frank Lawton is sometimes rather bland, but he is likable and is at least believable as Bartholomew's grown-up counterpart.
The story, of necessity, is episodic and moves quite quickly, usually including only the highlights of the narrative. But it does a very good job of this, making each sequence work well, and efficiently fitting each one into the story as a whole. George Cukor certainly deserves a good deal of credit for making it work and fit together so well. The settings, which are always important in a Dickens story, are also for the most part pretty good.
The original novel "David Copperfield" is such a fine classic of literature that no two-hour movie could be on quite the same level, but this version is quite enjoyable, and it does a very good job of depicting the atmosphere and most of the important events of the story.
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