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Great Expectations (1946) Poster

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David Lean wanted his film to have a feeling of heightened realism. Working closely in conjunction with art director John Bryan and cinematographer Guy Green, he employed several tricks, such as forced perspective, to achieve this effect. The famous opening shot in the graveyard, for instance, features a brooding church in the background which in reality was only 3 meters high.
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.
During one scene where she had to carry a candle while walking up the stairs, Jean Simmons' apron caught fire.
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John Mills, playing Pip from the age of 18 to 25, was actually 38 at the time of filming.
Charles Dickens wrote a much harsher ending to the original novel for its original publication; he was forced to substitute the more famous ending when it was published as a book later on, because the original one upset his readers. I believe that this was the only time he ever changed his novel's ending.
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First movie speaking role for Alec Guinness.
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Valerie Hobson also played Estella's mother Molly.
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Valerie Hobson was widely considered to be miscast as the adult Estella.
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Alec Guinness was very nervous and self-conscious when he started filming, as he found his wig to be particularly uncomfortable.
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Guy Green replaced Robert Krasker as cinematographer on this film. David Lean and Ronald Neame were not satisfied with Krasker's studio recreation of the marshes in the opening scenes.
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Francis L. Sullivan previously played Mr Jaggers in Great Expectations (1934).
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Guinness had previously played Pocket in his own stage adaptation of "Great Expectations" in 1940.
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One of the few films to be shown on commercial network television after it had been shown many times on local stations, including PBS affiliates.
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Valerie Hobson filmed several scenes as Biddy for Great Expectations (1934), though they were all eventually cut.
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Tony Wager and Jean Simmons both receive "introducing" credits.
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David Lean had never read any Charles Dickens when it was first mooted that he direct an adaptation.
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The Cineguild team of David Lean, Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allen collaborated on the screenplay after Dickens' scholar Clemence Dame could not come up with a worthy script. Like Dickens, the Cineguild team was stuck for an ending. In the novel, which actually had two different endings, Dickens had Pip and Estella briefly meet when they are elderly. It was Lean's wife, Kay Walsh, who came up with the idea of Pip rescuing Estella from the fate that mirrored Miss Havisham's. And for that, she received a screenplay credit.
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First cinema feature of Howard Lang.
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