Based on Charles Dickens' novel, this adaptation traces the childhood of an orphan whose mother dies giving birth to him in an English work-house in the 1820s. Little Oliver Twist, already ... See full summary »
Based on Charles Dickens' novel, this adaptation traces the childhood of an orphan whose mother dies giving birth to him in an English work-house in the 1820s. Little Oliver Twist, already abused, starved and overworked, is apprenticed to an undertaker and runs away to London after being bullied by an older apprentice. There, he is taken in by Fagin, a fence and thief-trainer, and his gang of pickpockets. He is befriended by Nancy, a good-hearted prostitute, and meets her lover, the brutal housebreaker Bill Sikes. But attempts by the gang to discredit him result in his being taken in by Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy and charitable man, who proves the catalyst for Oliver's discovery of his background and identity. Here Alan Bleasdale's dramatisation differs from Dickens' novel, in that Oliver does not fall into Brownlow's hands by coincidence, and we already know his back story: he's the child of a young woman named Agnes Fleming and her married lover, Edwin Leeford, who dies while on a trip... Written by
She'll do it for you, Fagin.
No, she won't, Fagin.
She should, Nancy.
[standing to face him]
There's only one way to make me do this, Bill.
Yeah, I know.
[He punches her to the floor]
As I was saying
[he kicks her]
She'll do it for you, Fagin.
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I have always loved this story - the hopeful theme, the excellent characters and Dickens' realistic and meticulous descriptions. So when this was aired, all my friends told me to watch it, because it was really good. So I did. And I enjoyed it. It didn't stick to the book too often, and Mr Bumble and Fagin weren't that Dickensian, but Monks was brilliant and there were some ingenious moments of direction. Then I watched the final episode, and was so disappointed. Someone else said they were almost in tears by the end. I was too - it was so poor. It was as though the scriptwriter skimmed through the book and made the rest up. It was rushed, especially during Sikes' escape, and as a result lacked any feeling to it. The only feeling was in the one place it shouldn't have been - Sikes. Dickens wrote him as an unfeeling, brutal character. If at any point he loved Nancy, he would never have said so, least of all to Fagin. That one line, "I loved her, Fagin" ruined everything the film had going for it. Unbeliveable. Which describes Fagin. Pathetic. Alec Guinness was so much better - he was realistic. As was Frances L. Sullivan. I don't think that guy who played Mr Bumble realised that the character was a poke of fun at the parish beadles. As well as the dodger... if Dickens wrote that he was around Oliver's age, do you think the dodger was MEANT to be around Oliver's age? On the other hand, as well as Monks' superb acting, Rose Maylie (sorry, Fleming) was pretty good, as was Nancy, except she didn't show any love for Bill. They must have got the two mixed up. I much prefer Lean's 1948 version. It may be abriged, but it's better than the expanded attempt at Dickens.
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