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Little Dorrit (1987)

Arthur Clennam returns to London after working abroad for many years with his now deceased father. Almost at once he becomes involved in the problems of his mother's seamstress Amy Dorrit ... See full summary »




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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Wall ...
Patricia Hayes ...
Luke Duckett ...
Sarah Pickering ...
Amelda Brown ...
Daniel Chatto ...
Bill Fraser ...
Mollie Maureen ...
Diana Malin ...
Mr. Casby's Maid


Arthur Clennam returns to London after working abroad for many years with his now deceased father. Almost at once he becomes involved in the problems of his mother's seamstress Amy Dorrit and of her father residing in the Marshalsea debtors' prison. Pursuing their cause Arthur comes across a successful business opportunity and also gains a number of new acquaintances, while his and Amy's paths continue to cross. A reversal of fortune lays him low, but to fully understand how, this story must now be seen through Little Dorrit's eyes. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

21 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Little Dorrit's Story  »

Box Office


$1,025,228 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Feature film debut of Richard Clifford, who portrays "Jerry." See more »


Arthur and Minnie are in the garden on an apparently warm day. Yet, you can see visible breath vapor as they talk. See more »


Version of Little Dorrit (1913) See more »

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User Reviews

Fine period piece, a little unwieldy
9 July 1999 | by (Ottawa, Canada) – See all my reviews

This sprawling movie can take a lot of discipline to watch in its entirety, but it is worth seeing just for the performances of Derek Jacobi in the first half and Alec Guinness in the second. Jacobi is wonderful as the gentle, unlucky Arthur Clennam, who keeps finding that through nobody's fault, he keeps missing out on happiness. It is sweetly heartbreaking to follow his growing affection for Minnie Meagles, only to watch her throw herself away on a conceited young fool, whom even she seems to realize cannot equal Clennam in worth. Jacobi has a great actor's ability to tell a story without saying a word, as when he gently drops Minnie's roses into the river and watches them float away, and we realize he is saying goodbye to love. The scene later on in prison, when he discovers that he has missed his chance for love again, but this time it is he who all unaware has been the object of another's love, is breathtaking. Once again, without a word, Jacobi is able to portray his anguish and the chaos of memories and ideas that suddenly assail him, until he is almost suffocating, trapped and helpless in his little cell in the Marshalsea.

The second half of the movie suffers from the absence of Jacobi, and I found myself eagerly looking forward to every chance appearance of his, but Alec Guinness also gives a fine performance as the indigent William Dorrit, whose sudden acquisition of a legacy not only frees him from debtor's prison, but also turns him into a heartless snob and social climber. Among the other performances in this film worth noting, is that of Miriam Margolyse as the aging coquette, Flora Finching, a kindly, ridiculous scatterbrain, talking nonstop while taking little nips out of the medicine bottle to keep up her spirits.

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