12 user 10 critic

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.


Alberto Cavalcanti (as Cavalcanti)


Charles Dickens (by), John Dighton (screenplay)




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
Learn more

More Like This 

Hue and Cry (1947)
Adventure | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A gang of street boys foil a master crook who sends commands for robberies by cunningly altering a comic strip's wording each week, unknown to writer and printer. The first of the Ealing ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Crichton
Stars: Alastair Sim, Frederick Piper, Harry Fowler
Action | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The story of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott's 1912 expedition and his quest to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Director: Charles Frend
Stars: John Mills, Derek Bond, Diana Churchill
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The Captain of a ferry boat between the restricted British colony in Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco has a woman of differing appeal and temperament in each port.

Director: Anthony Kimmins
Stars: Alec Guinness, Peter Bull, Charles Goldner
Mystery | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

During WW2, a Royal Navy Commander stumbles upon a murdered woman and discovers a network of Nazi spies and Fifth-Columnists.

Director: Karel Lamac
Stars: James Mason, Joyce Howard, Tom Walls
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The story of a 19th century English music hall (vaudeville) performer and life behind the scenes.

Director: Alberto Cavalcanti
Stars: Tommy Trinder, Stanley Holloway, Betty Warren
The Hideout (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A husband and wife stop to help two men in a car crash only to find they are criminals on the run.

Director: Fergus McDonell
Stars: Valerie Hobson, James Donald, Howard Keel
Copacabana (1947)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An agent has his only client pose as both a French chanteuse and Brazilian bombshell to fool a nightclub owner.

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Groucho Marx, Carmen Miranda, Steve Cochran
The Blue Lamp (1950)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The daily routine of two London Policemen is interrupted by a killer.

Director: Basil Dearden
Stars: Jack Warner, Dirk Bogarde, Jimmy Hanley
Nicholas Nickleby (TV Mini-Series 1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young, compassionate man struggles to save his family and friends from the abusive exploitation of his cold-hearted, grasping uncle.

Stars: Nigel Havers, Peter Bourke, Derek Godfrey
Lost Daughter (1949)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Intrigued by the portrait of a Jewish girl at a London art gallery, a British Army Major attempts to find her amongst the refugees living in various camps for displaced people in post-World War II Germany.

Director: Terence Fisher
Stars: Mai Zetterling, Robert Beatty, Guy Rolfe
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

A young, compassionate man struggles to save his family and friends from the abusive exploitation of his cold-hearted, grasping uncle.

Stars: Alun Armstrong, Suzanne Bertish, Janet Dale
Comedy | Musical | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The working-class Smiths change their initially sunny views on World War I after the three boys of the family witness the harsh reality of trench warfare.

Director: Richard Attenborough
Stars: Wendy Allnutt, Colin Farrell, Malcolm McFee


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




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Jill Balcon. See more »


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 »


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.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 12 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

3 December 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nicholas Nickleby See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ealing Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Recently Viewed