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 »
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
David O. Selznick always wanted to make a film of his favorite book. He cherished the novel as his emigrant film distributor father used it to help him learn English when he first arrived in the United States. See more »
Micawber folds the paper of accusation twice. See more »
Film opens with the last sentence of Charles Dickens's preface to the original edition: "Like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts, a favourite child, and his name is David Copperfield." See more »
Masterpiece of film-making brings Dickens' novel to life...
Of all of the films directed by George Cukor, I think this is his finest achievement, helped in no small measure by the perfect casting of all the Dickens characters.
Freddie Bartholomew is flawless as the young David. Edna May Oliver as his stern but loving Aunt Betsy Trotwood gives her usual sharp characterization and nearly steals the first half of the movie. As for Mr. Murdstone, Basil Rathbone is the perfect embodiment of that brutally wicked man. Born to play Mr. Micawber is W. C. Fields, so uncannily right that it almost seems as if Dickens had him in mind when he wrote the character!
Very atmospheric, so much so that it seems almost incredible that an American movie company could have crafted this gem. One would think the British would have beat us to it--but Dickens would have approved of this version, I'm sure.
The only drawback is the length and the scenes involving David's wife, Dora, as played by Maureen O'Sullivan with a saccharine sweetness that becomes cloying at times. (Thank God she didn't play Melanie in 'GWTW'). Some of the acting is a bit florid but to be expected when you consider this was made in 1935. Roland Young is well cast as Uriah Heep.
Highly recommended. Anyone who cherishes the Dickens novel will not be disappointed. The only flaw is that the story has been compressed in order to limit the running time to two hours and ten minutes and it shows. All the essential characters remain but some of them have little dimension because of time constraints.
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