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The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1947)

Approved | | Drama | 3 December 1947 (USA)
A young, compassionate man struggles to save his family and friends from the abusive exploitation of his cold-hearted, grasping uncle.

Director:

Alberto Cavalcanti (as Cavalcanti)

Writers:

Charles Dickens (by), John Dighton (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Derek Bond ... Nicholas Nickleby
Cedric Hardwicke ... Ralph Nickleby
Mary Merrall ... Mrs. Nickleby
Sally Ann Howes ... Kate Nickleby
Bernard Miles ... Newman Noggs
Athene Seyler ... Miss La Creevy
Alfred Drayton ... Wackford Squeers
Sybil Thorndike ... Mrs. Squeers
Vida Hope Vida Hope ... Fanny Squeers
Roy Hermitage Roy Hermitage ... Wackford Squeers Jnr.
Aubrey Woods Aubrey Woods ... Smike
Patricia Hayes Patricia Hayes ... Phoebe
Cyril Fletcher Cyril Fletcher ... Mr.Mantalini / Alfred Mantalini
Fay Compton ... Madame Mantalini / Mme Mantalini
Cathleen Nesbitt ... Miss Knag
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Storyline

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 Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Jill Balcon. See more »

Quotes

Ralph Nickleby: Noggs, take down this letter. "To Mr. Squeers, the Saracen's Head, Snow Hill. I have decided to finance any legal action you may care to take against my nephew."
Newman Noggs: Ho, ho, ho! He isn't there.
Ralph Nickleby: Who isn't?
Newman Noggs: Mr. Squeers. He's at Bow Street Police Station!
Ralph Nickleby: You're lying.
Newman Noggs: Ohhh no, I'm not. And Mr Squeers hasn't been lying either. Mr Squeers has confessed to conspiracy with regard to a birth certificate and certain letters purporting to prove that Mr Snawley was the father!
Ralph Nickleby: I don't know what you're talking ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of The Life and Adventures of Nick Nickleby (2012) See more »

User Reviews

Uneven but worth a watch
12 November 2011 | by jandesimpsonSee all my reviews

To a certain extent the Ealing Studios version of "Nicholas Nickleby" was a victim of bad timing. How could it possibly compare with David Lean's superb adaptations of "Great Expectations" and "Oliver Twist" made around the same period. It was a fate that was later to befall Milos Forman's "Valmont" that unfortunately appeared at the same time as the Stephen Frears version of "Dangerous Liaisons". And yet Cavalcanti's foray into Dickens has partly itself to blame for its very unevenness. One can hardly blame the quality of the book, as some have done, when David Lean did such inspired things with a similarly lesser Dickens work such as "Oliver Twist". Admittedly "Nickleby" through its considerably greater length does pose problems of adaptation to the under two-hour format, but one can only admire just how much of the original narrative has been crammed in. As will by now be evident, this review is something of a mass of contradictions. On the one hand there are some scenes that work remarkably well, the early sequence at Dotheboys Hall for instance with the terrible Squeers menage all hamming it most entertainingly - Alfred Drayton and Sybil Thorndike could hardly be bettered. And there are others that quite frankly are something of a bore, many of the Nickleby family scenes where the acting ranging for Derek Bond's colourless Nicholas, Sally Ann Howes's simpering Kate and Mary Merrall's embarrassingly silly mother are the stuff of village hall rep. This is one of those films that both excite and annoy. However with so much that is forgettable there is one performance that remains quite unforgettable. Sir Cedric Hardwiche's Uncle Ralph is a beautifully controlled study of wickedness. His comeuppance at the end, when he is pursued by police to the upper floor of his house, brought out the very best in Cavalcanti. In a film where so much of the direction is flat and uninspired, this sequence with its camera virtuosity and expressionistic shadows is extraordinarily exciting. Although overall this version of "Nicholas Nickleby" ranks rather low in the Dickensian cinematic canon, it is not one to be overlooked entirely.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 December 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nicholas Nickleby See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ealing Studios See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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