Nineteenth century England. When Nicholas Nickleby's father dies and leaves his family destitute, his uncle, the greedy moneylender, Ralph Nickleby, finds Nicholas a job teaching in a ... See full summary »
Nineteenth century England. When Nicholas Nickleby's father dies and leaves his family destitute, his uncle, the greedy moneylender, Ralph Nickleby, finds Nicholas a job teaching in a repulsive school in Yorkshire. Nicholas flees the school taking with him one of the persecuted boys, Smike, and they join a troop of actors. Nicholas then has to protect Smike, while trying to stop his Uncle Ralph taking advantage of his sister Kate, and later his sweetheart, Madeline Bray, whose father is in debtors prison. Written by
In post World War II Great Britain there seemed to be a great revival in the work of Charles Dickens. Three of his classic novels were filmed in that period, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby.
Nicholas Nickleby is less known than the other two because Alec Guinness and John Mills got great roles and reached the top of the British cinema firmament as stars. Derek Bond in the title tole of Nicholas Nickleby never got to the heights that Mills and Guinness did. Still he was good in what was probably his career role.
Like the other two Dickens works Nicholas Nickleby involves the progress of a young man who has to overcome a lot of odds to attain prosperity and happiness. In this case his father dies and Bond with his mother Mary Merrall who is from the Billie Burke school of fluttery female and sister Sally Ann Howes look to his father's brother Cedric Hardwicke for charity.
But Hardwicke's not the charitable sort, in fact he's a scoundrel who has systematically lied and cheated others to build his fortune. He's not above using Howes as bait for his business and he sends Bond off to some 'school' that is little more than the work house we saw in Oliver Twist. Bond is a teacher there and leaves enraged at the treatment after giving the headmaster Alfred Drayton a thrashing the kind he relishes giving out to the kids.
Bond leaves with one of the kids played by Aubrey Woods who has been particularly abused and who in fact as it turns out was the victim of the most monstrous evil performed by Hardwicke. But we find out what that is toward the end of the film. Woods who has very few lines by facial expressions gives one of the most touching performances I've seen on film, he will live you longer than any of the other characters.
Dickens works abound in colorful characters and villains completely despicable. Cedric Hardwicke as Uncle Ralph Nickleby is a black hearted soul. Also standing out is Stanley Holloway head of a group of strolling players who gives help to Bond and Woods when they are at their lowest.
Nicholas Nickleby though it has been done on the big and small screen several times has this version to set a very high standard.
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