Based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist is about an orphan boy who runs away from a workhouse and meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. Oliver is taken in by the pickpocket ... See full summary »
Henry Hobson is a successful bootmaker and tyrannical widower of three daughters. The girls each want to leave their father by getting married, but Henry refuses as marriage traditions require him to pay out settlements.
Brenda de Banzie
The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during the First World War and then the October Revolution.
Pip, a good-natured, gullible young orphan, lives with kind blacksmith Joe Gargery and his bossy, abusive wife 'Mrs. Joe'. When the boy finds two hidden escaped galley convicts, he obeys under -probably unnecessary- threat of a horrible death to bring the criminals food he must steal at peril of more caning from the battle-ax. Just when Pip fears to get it really good while they have guests, a soldier comes for Joe who takes Pip along as assistant to work on the chains of escaped galley-convicts, who are soon caught. The better-natured one takes the blame for the stolen food. Later Pip is invited to became the playmate of Estelle, the equally arrogant adoptive daughter of gloomy, filthy rich Miss Havisham at her estate, who actually has 'permission' to break the kind kid's heart; being the only pretty girl he ever saw, she wins his heart forever, even after a mysterious benefactor pays through a lawyer for his education and a rich allowance, so he can become a snob in London, by now '... Written by
David Lean was not a particularly well-read man, and only became aware of the power of Charles Dickens' story when his wife Kay Walsh dragged him along to a theatrical production of "Great Expectations" in 1939. Incidentally, playing Herbert Pocket in this production, was a young Alec Guinness, whom Lean subsequently cast in the same role in the film version. Aside from bit parts, it was Guinness' first major screen role and was also the first of six films he made with Lean. Martita Hunt was also in the stage production, playing Miss Havisham, a role she reprised in the film. See more »
When Pip goes home to his rooms before Magwitch returns, two clocks are heard striking the hour outside. The second one plays Westminster chimes. Big Ben in Westminster was the first to have these (hence the name) and this wasn't built until 1859, some years after the action. See more »
Martita Hunt plays Miss Havisham, and receives screen credit for it, but she can also be heard as the voice of the cow who, in Pip's mind, disapproves of him stealing food to give to Magwitch ("Somebody else's pork pie!"). She receives no screen credit for playing the voice of the cow. See more »
a delightful tale with broad appeal (Modern viewers, take note.)
As a fan of many so-called classic films, I am nonetheless aware that there is some validity to the criticism that early movies (say, anything before Brando in Streetcar) as a rule have less vitality than their modern counterparts, are formulaic to a fault, and strain the limits of modern attention spans more than can be fully blamed on the viewer. Great Expectations treads miles clear of any of these criticisms, and so I recommend it in particular to anyone who has a general disdain for films that a) were released in the first half of the 20th century and/or b) were shot in black and white. Here is one that can change your mind.
Naturally, given the talents of the author, the plot itself leaves little to be desired. Further, David Lean, his cast, and his crew, have done a splendid job translating Dickens to the screen. This is indeed, as the Criterion Collection folks have classified it, one of the "Great Adaptations." I doubt that there is a better cinematic adaptation of any Dickens novel and am almost certain there is none in which the Dickensian English dialogue flows more pleasantly and naturally. The actors herein deliver Dickens as Olivier himself delivered Shakespeare. Nor is this an unimportant accomplishment; having to spend a couple of hours listening to actors who sound more like they are delivering a series of quotes (though admittedly they are) than that they are actually conversing can be positively unbearable. Indeed I think that's the main thing that people are hitting upon when, with broad brush-strokes, they paint older films as tedious. Great Expectations is the antidote to just this attitude.
If you are a lover of classic films, you have likely already seen this one or will do so regardless of my review, but if, on the other hand, you entertain the possibility of watching Great Expectations with a deep-seated skepticism I implore you to give it a chance. I have every confidence you'll be pleasantly surprised and find yourself drawn into what is, after all, a fascinating story.
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