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
Very good, one of the better adaptations of the book
Personally, there are only two that are better, the 1982 production with Alun Armstrong as Squeers and the 2002 James D'Arcy version, with the weakest being the 2002 feature film with Jim Broadbent and Christopher Plummer, the 2002 film was quite good in my view. But from personal perspective, none of them are bad. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby(1947) has problems; an intrusive music score, Derek Bond's wooden Nicholas, Sally Ann Howes' over-simpering Kate and Mary Merrall playing Mrs Nickleby as too much of a silly caricature. The film is beautifully and expressively photographed and has an evocatively atmospheric setting. Alberto Cavalcanti does direct gracefully for one who is more of a surrealist director, while the dialogue is crisp and intelligent and the story draws you right in with little filler and delivers the narrative right to the point. Three performances may not have worked, but the others do. Coming off best is Cedric Hardwicke, by far and large the most evil of the Ralph Nicklebys of all the adaptations, truly diabolical. Alfred Drayton is loathsome and funny as Squeers, while Bernard Miles' Newman is appealing, Stanley Holloway is a sharp Crummles and the Smike of Aubrey Woods is very affecting. In conclusion, one of the better adaptations of the book and does a very good job on its own. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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