Young Nicholas Nickleby sets out to make his fortune in order to prevent his mother and sister from depending upon his uncle, Ralph Nicklby. But he finds his first job as master at a ... See full summary »
A well loved BBC adaptation of one of Charles Dickens lesser read novels. It revolves around some very greedy and selfish relatives who are all after the failing old Martin Chuzzlewits ... See full summary »
Jim Brannigan is sent to London to bring back an American mobster who is being held for extradition but when he arrives he has been kidnapped which was set up by his lawyer. Brannigan in ... See full summary »
The story of a young group of siblings pretty much abandoned by their parents, surviving by their wits - and humor - on a rough Manchester council estate. Whilst they won't admit it, they ... See full summary »
Young Nicholas Nickleby sets out to make his fortune in order to prevent his mother and sister from depending upon his uncle, Ralph Nicklby. But he finds his first job as master at a Yorkshire school to be cruel, and runs away with one of the students. Meanwhile, Kate is subjected to the unwanted attentions of Sir Mulberry Hawk, aided by her uncle. Nicholas and his new friend, Smike, begin their adventures and eventually set out to rescue Kate, with the usual Dickensian twists, turns and asides. Written by
It's quite hard to photograph a stage play for television or the movies. Most times the finished product must, of necessity, do close-ups of some actor or small group of actors, while the entire stage picture is not visible. With "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" a monumental theatrical undertaking is transformed quite admirably to the small screen. Filmed at The Old Vic in London, the entire show--sets, costumes, lighting, music, and above all else, the acting and direction--are given an immediacy and intimacy that makes the audience member feel as though the show is being performed for them alone.
Charles Dickens works were, by and large, quite long, the original publication being serialized in newspapers and magazines. Rich in character and descriptive passages, with dialog sparkling with the many levels of society that Dickens portrayed, plot layered upon sub-plot and more sub-plot, it would have been understandable if the writers and producers were reluctant to try to bring such a complex novel to life. Certainly, movies are rife with misguided attempts to take 1000 page novels and turn them into 100 minute movies. Seldom do they do more than touch on the highlights of a novel, and then they often feel the need to add story lines that weren't in the original in a foolish attempt to make the production more acceptable to modern audiences. "Nicholas Nickleby" does it right. In nine glorious hours of high energy acting, the tale of Nicholas, his sister Kate, friend Smike, Newman Noggs, greedy uncle Ralph, and the delightful brothers Cheryble unfolds before us.
With a cast numbering more than 40 playing well over 200 roles, the show moves easily from the Nickleby clan's arrival in London to their ultimate happiness, with the usual collection of Dickensian hardships and triumphs along the way. Many actors will be familiar to audiences, although the names might not be so. Certainly, if you watch enough British television on A & E or BBC you will recognize several of the cast members, and Roger Rees, brilliant in the title role, has long been familiar to American audiences.
But pay close attention to the smaller roles, too. An old theater adage says "there are no small parts, only small actors." This show is a perfect example of quality acting from largest to smallest role. Had one actor not been totally on top of their game, it would have stood out badly. Watch the reactions on the faces of the people who are on the edges of a scene: totally involved in what is going on, listening all the time, creating a reality that is as complete as can be found on a stage.
"The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" is as entertaining, involving, uplifting and exhilarating bit of theater as could be found. It's a joy to watch, and I, for one, am delighted that it is available on DVD. Go out and buy it today, and spend a weekend in front of your TV, entranced. I did.
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