Oliver Twist (1948)

Not Rated  |   |  Adventure, Crime, Drama  |  30 July 1951 (USA)
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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 »



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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Howard Davies ...
Kay Walsh ...
Francis L. Sullivan ...
Henry Stephenson ...
Mary Clare ...
Josephine Stuart ...
Ralph Truman ...
Kathleen Harrison ...
Gibb McLaughlin ...
Amy Veness ...
Frederick Lloyd ...
Henry Edwards ...


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 and he joins a household of young boys who are trained to steal for their master. This version of Oliver Twist is topped by Alec Guinness's masterly performance of arch-thug Fagin. Written by Jenny Evans <J.Evans@uts.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | pickpocket | orphan | torch | rifle | See All (153) »


A Screen Event To Be Remembered For All Time !


Adventure | Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

30 July 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

As Aventuras de Oliver Twist  »

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Alfie Bass was considered for the the Artful Dodger, until Kay Walsh, David Lean's wife at the time, recommended Anthony Newley who was with her in Vice Versa (1948). See more »


17 minutes into the film, Oliver is delivered for his apprenticeship and the old gentleman is holding a candle. As he approaches the door you can see an electric cable powering the "candle" being pulled quickly along by his feet. See more »


Mr. Brownlow: The law assumes that your wife acts under your direction.
Mr. Bumble: If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass, a idiot! If that's the eye of the law, then the law is a bachelor. And the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience.
See more »


Referenced in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) See more »


He Don't Know When To Stop
Music by Frederick Lewis
Lyrics by Ronald Hill
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User Reviews

David Lean's Superb Dickens
30 June 2007 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Still the most Dickensian of all the Oliver Twist films David Lean's inspired version, never the less is much indebted in its style to the German Expressionist Cinema. It's London is more related to Fritz Lang than Victorian England but the spirit of Dickens is alive and well in the accurately drawn caricatures from the novel. Outstanding performances by Francis J. Sullivan as ridiculous Mr. Bumble, Alec Guiness's chillingly evil Fagin despite a badly judged nose job, and the eye boggling twitching Robert Newton as the ferocious Bill Sykes. Even his dog trembles at his temper, in fact the dog is a major actor in this version.

John Newton Howard is a rather angelic Oliver, with a more refined delivery than one would have expected from a workhouse background. But it all goes decidedly well thanks to Lean's superb direction, stunning images, clever editing and a sterling cast. Viewed today so many years after it was filmed it remains the most vivid and Gothic recreation of the story. Probably Charles Dickens would approve. The heroic length recent version by Roman Polanski is generally faithful to the novel but lacks the pizazz and humour that is in Dicken's writing. David Lean made only two excursions into Dickens (Oliver Twist and Great Expectations) both milestones in cinema. One can but wonder how well he may have brought Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend to the screen.

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