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Oliver! (DVD)

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6 Reviews

Genre: Children's DVDs / Universal, suitable for all / Director: Carol Reed / Actors: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe ... / DVD released 2000-12-11 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Letterboxed, PAL

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    6 Reviews
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      28.12.2009 14:44
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      A great family film

      I remember loving the musical film Oliver! as a child and singing and dancing along to so many of the wonderful songs that accompanied the story. I was also lucky to see the West End production many years ago, long before Andrew Lloyd Webber took an interest with his search for a Nancy and an Oliver in the great series 'I'd do Anything'. My daughters loved watching the TV shows and started picking up the words to some of the songs. Therefore when I saw the DVD of the original film for sale in Tesco for only £3 (yes I know - what a bargain!) I just had to buy it for them. As we were a bit snowed in just before Christmas, with yet another social engagement cancelled, it seemed an ideal cosy way to spend the afternoon - all curled up in our big armchair watching Oliver!

      Oliver! (made in 1968)is based on the classic novel of Oliver Twist that was written by Charles Dickens. It tells the story of a poor workhouse boy who had the audacity to ask for more of the disgusting gruel that was served to all the boys daily while the workhouse governors were fed roast dinners. As a consequence Oliver is sold to the local undertaker where he is teased about his dead mother. Feeling desperate, he runs away and ends up in London where he meets the streetwise Artful Dodger who takes him home to Fagin who runs a gang of pickpockets. Oliver just seems to free himself from one tricky situation only to find himself in another. This is the case when he is arrested for pick pocketing although things appear to be looking up when he is found not guilty and is taken home by the victim - the kindly Mr Brownlow. However, the evil Bill Sykes has other plans for Oliver. It seems that it is only the lovely Nancy who is on Oliver's side but will she be able to save him?

      Well, that was a very brief précis of this very famous and well loved story. My girls were totally absorbed from the start although I did warn them that Bill Sykes was not a very nice character and was going to do some very nasty things. The girls did find him a bit scary but I did keep reminding them that this was just a story.

      What makes Oliver! So successful is a combination of the brilliant singing and dancing alongside some fantastic acting from a host of stars who most are sadly no longer with us. Harry Secombe, Leonard Rossiter, Peggy Mount, Oliver Reed and Jack Wild are just a few of the stars who have sadly died. I remember absolutely falling in love with the Artful Dodger when I was a child and I still am drawn to Jack Wild's amazing performance of this streetwise chancer who is such a contrast to Mark Lester's angelic Oliver. Ron Moody makes an excellent Fagin, Shani Wallis is lovely as Nancy and Oliver Reed is truly menacing as Bill Sykes. There are some more humourous characters too. Fagin is a very funny character as is Harry Secombe's Mr Bumble and Leonard Rossiter's undertaker.

      There are so many fabulous songs in Lionel Bart's score of Oliver! - most of which I can't help singing along with. Some are very lively and upbeat such as 'Consider Yourself' and 'I'd do Anything' and to the other extreme there is the very poignant 'Where is Love?' Every single number helps to tell the story and most are accompanied by lively colourful dancing that is really well choreographed especially as some of the dances seem to have a cast of thousands! This definitely seems the case with 'Who will buy?' which is such a brilliant visual number that every time you watch it you will notice another character playing his or her small part in all that is going on. My daughters love all the songs and I have noticed my youngest regularly singing 'Oom Pah Pah!' ever since we watched it.

      Although there are some darker sides to the story, Oliver! Is definitely a feel good film and if you have never seen it before it really is one to watch. Equally if it is a film that you have seen but forgotten, then I'm sure if you watch it again you will love it. You might even be lucky to get hold of it for the bargain price of £3 which I did at Tesco.

      Overall this film is definitely worth having in the collection and introducing to children and grandchildren. Even though there is a bit of violence (more implied than actually seen) this film is classified U. However, some children might find some parts quite scary.

      On the DVD there are just a few special features. These are:

      Behind the scenes featurette
      Theatrical trailer
      Vintage advertising and production photos

      These are all worth taking a look at.

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        13.12.2008 23:24

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        A great film to sing along to.

        This film is very good, it is one of the best musicals ever made with a fantastic soundtrack and great cast.

        The film is adapted from the Dicken's novel and is a great adaption. In the film, a orphan is befriended by a pickpocket and is led into a gang. Then, the orphan is able to get some love even in the most desperate of circumstances.

        The cast does a great job and fit into their roles superbly. The soundtrack is fantastic with some great lyrics and songs that will have you singing in front of the TV. The script is very good and entertaining. The story is easy to understand so everyone will be able to enjoy it.

        The message of the film is a good lesson and doesn't overpower the film.

        The picture and sound quality of the DVD is very good and the extras are worth a watch. They include some behind the scenes footage and some informative commentaries.

        Overall, this is a great musical that can entertain everyone. It has some great songs that will get you singing and the cast is very good. It is a great adaption and will go down as one of the best musicals ever, a must buy.

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        26.06.2008 18:53
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        Oliver has got to be one of my favourite musicals of all time, however this particular adaption. There are numerous different versions of this and we have seen televised drama's relating to the novel aswell, but, I do not feel that any of them come up to scratch in comparision to this. Oliver is normally shown on television around Christmas time without fail and because I loved it so much I actually hunted a copy of the dvd down, as this one is pretty scarce when it comes to buying it.

        The film is based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. It first came out in 1968, won several academy awards and still remains popular to this day.

        Oliver is an orphan, his mother died as she was giving birth and his father had never been around. Growing up in a place where orphans usually lived, he didn't have a fantastic childhood. He lived at the workhouse where his mother died, however one day he decided to run away and make his escape to London.

        When arriving in London, he meets the Artful Dodger, a cheeky chappy that takes him under his wing and shows him the ropes of how to get around in this bustling city. Although Oliver thinks he has found a friend, the Artful Dodger has other things up his sleeve and things he can recruit him to his establishment where he comes from and overs him a place to stay.

        He takes Oliver to Saffron Hill and introduces him to Fagan, the old man that has many young boys working for him, thieving to earn their keep at his residence. Its not long before Oliver is also doing the same, reluctantly, but he needs somewhere to stay. When Dodger steals a wallet from a wealthy gentlemen, Oliver is arrested and they try to pin the blame on him, however a witness had seen that Oliver had not done it. In the courtroom, Oliver passes out and the wealthy gentlement decides to take him to his own home to care for him.

        Fagan is not at all happy that Oliver has gone, because he think that Oliver will tell people about his establishment and arranges for Oliver to be kidnapped back, which is done reluctantly by Nancy, Bill Sykes girlfriend, who eventually realises what they are trying to do to Oliver and tries to help him escape.

        Bill Sykes will go to whatever lengths he can to stop Nancy from helping the young boy escape, and any lengths could be anything when in the hands of Bill Sykes.

        This adpation of Oliver is perfect. The cast consist of quite a few famous people, the likes of Bill Moody and Harry Secombe, and the younger cast do superbly well, even though many didn't actually go on into a full time acting career, and are just normal people that had quite a large role in an Academy Award winning film.

        THe music within the film is great, although its a sad film, you always seem to get pulled in by the music. Its a musical where everyone comes from a rough environment and fantastic singing voices are not required because of where the actual film is set.

        Oliver is by far the best adpation of Charles Dickens novel.

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          24.03.2005 17:29
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          I've recently played the part of 'Nancy' in a local production of 'Oliver!' and so I seem to have it on the brain at the moment. This muscial adaptation of Charles Dickens novel 'Oliver Twist' was produced in the the late 1960's - just as movie musicals were reaching the end of their reign. However, that doesn't stop 'Oliver!' from regularly appearing in the Top 10 of the nation's favourite musicals.

          Set in the 1850's, the story revolves around a young orphan named Oliver (Mark Lester). In an infamous scene, he asks Mr Bumble, the overseer of the workhouse, if he can have some more gruel. Bumble (Harry Secombe), decides that Oliver is a troublemaker and sets off to sell the young boy. He sells him to a funeral director, Mr Sowerberry (Leonard Rossiter) but after various hilarious antics, Oliver manages to escape and makes his way to London.

          When he arrives he meets Jack Dawkins, 'known amongst his more h'intimate friends' as the Artful Dodger (Jack Wild). Dodger takes him to Fagin's (Ron Moody) where he is welcomed warmly (Fagin sees Oliver as another addition to his little troupe of thieves). Fagin's den is full of young ruffians and scallywags who thieve for Fagin. Life isn't all that great as they all exist on a diet of stale sausages and gin in the dark, overcrowded den but the light in all their lives is a young woman called Nancy (Shani Wallis) and her friend Bet. Nancy is the girlfriend of the notorious Bill Sykes (Oliver Reed) and although she's slightly rough around the edges it's obvious that at heart she is a good person. Sykes, however, is nasty to the core and regularly attacks Nancy and anyone else who gets in his way.

          I won't give away much more of the story as it's great to see everything unfold before your eyes in musical splendour. There are some great songs including Pick a Pocket or Two, Where is Love, Who Will Buy?, As Long as He Needs Me and I'd Do Anything. One thing that is annoying and that's the fact that Bill Sykes' song from the actual stage show isn't included. His rendition of 'My Name' would really add fear to the role and establish very easily what a nasty character her really is.

          The film is nearly 40 years old now but it's still a great favourite amongst young and old. This is another film I've used to keep my little cousin quiet when I've been babysitting - perhaps I'm to blame for the fact that she's now a little singing and dancing Prima Donna!

          The film is often available as a double video along with Annie, for less than £10 - A bargain, if you ask me!

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            10.03.2002 21:45
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            Having recently given the big thumbs down to Sound Of Music and Grease, you could be forgiven for thinking that dave27 doesn't like musicals much. Well I don't, so it's all the more encouraging then that I've got several words to say about Oliver, Lionel Bart's musical feature film adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. Apart from the songs (and more about them later), the film is a pretty true to the original recreation of the workhouse story of Dickens' classic novel, about an orphaned boy. Like all such waifs he was worked hard in the workhouse by the bumble (whatever that is, a sort of governor with a hat, I suppose being the best description), Mr Beadle. Driven to despair by his lot one day, Oliver pleads with Beadle for "some more", leading to his disposal into the service of Mr Sowerby, an undertaker. Oliver escaped and ran away to London to seek his fortune. When he arrived there, a young thief called Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger, befriended him and took him back to meet a Jewish miser called Fagin. Fagin has enlisted an army of child thieves to line his pockets, and soon convinces Oliver to join the brood. However, Oliver went on to find his real mother and (wait for it, wait for it...) lived happily ever after. Now that's a pretty trite and sentimental 'heartwarming' tale of the sort which wouldn't normally appeal to my less than generous soul, but the facts are that both Dickens' book and Bart's film rise effortlessly above the genre to create works of real power and pleasure, which you would have to be tighter than Fagin himself to not have time for. The website 'The Knitting Circle: Popular Culture' - http://www.sbu.ac.uk/stafflag/lionelbart.html - gives some useful info about Bart's life : 'Born 1st. August, 1930; died 3rd. April, 1999, in London. British composer, playwright, and lyricist. Original name Lionel Begleiter. 
            9;After seeing St Bartholomews hospital ("Barts") when passing by on a bus he changed his name to Bart. His work included writing comedy songs for the Sunday lunchtime BBC radio programme the Billy Cotton Band Show. In September 1956 he saw Tommy Hicks performing guitar in a Soho coffee bar. He signed him up to perform in a group called the Cavemen. Lionel Bart persuaded John Kennedy and Larry Parnes to see Tommy Hicks perform. They were impressed and they signed him up and he adopted the stage name Tommy Steele. 'Lionel Bart's greatest success was the musical Oliver!. It opened at the New Theatre (later to become the Albery Theatre) on 30th. June, 1960 and received 23 curtain calls. It ran for 2618 performances in London. It opened on Broadway in 1963 and ran their for 774 performances. The 1968 film version, directed by Carol Reed, won several Oscars, including Best Picture. 'The musical Twang!! in 1965 was a flop but he tried to prop up its failing finances with his own money. He sold the rights to his past and future works, including those of Oliver! to keep himself solvent but he still ended up declaring himself bankrupt in 1972. This led to a decade drinking in his flat in Acton. He was banned from driving in 1975 for driving under the influence of drink, and he was banned again in 1983 for two years.' Oliver scooped a whole host of awards, including the following - Academy Award: Best Picture Best Director - Carol Reed Best Sound - Shepperton Studio Sound Department Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - John Box, Terence Marsh, Vernon Dixon, Ken Muggleston Best Score (Musical) - John Green Academy Award Nomination: Best Actor - Ron Moody Best Supporting Actor - Jack Wild Best Adapted Screenplay - Vernon Harris Best Cinematography - Oswald Morris Best Costume Design - Phyllis Dalton Best Film Editing - Ralph Kemplen The cast
            included the following: Fagin - Ron Moody Nancy - Shani Wallis Bill Sykes - Oliver Reed Mr. Bumble - Harry Secombe Oliver Twist - Mark Lester The Artful Dodger - Jack Wild The whole thing was a wonderful, joyous masterpiece with the playing of Moody and Reed particularly wonderful, although inevitably it's the kids that take most of the honours and attention, although the sickly sweet Lester who never really had another success was a bit too cloying and simperingly sweet for popular taste. The full list of songs is as follows and can be found on a soundtrack album 1. Oliver! 2. Pick A Pocket Or Two 3. Be Back Soon 4. Who Will Buy? 5. Oom-Pah-Pah 6. It's A Fine Life 7. Boy For Sale 8. Consider Yourself 9. Food, Glorious Food 10. Overture 11. Finale: Where Is Love 12. I'd Do Anything 13. Reviewing The Situation 14. As Long As He Needs Me 15. Where Is Love? Even for someone who loaths musicals with a passion which is astonishing, this list of songs makes pretty sumptuous reading and listening, but the best thing is they never really get in the way of a pretty outstandingly staged story, which exhibits genuine drama and menace. It's not my favourite film, but it's certainly an enjoyable movie. It's a glorious blur from beginning to end and a positive marvel. I am happy to give it a strong recommendation. It's all music and knockabout fun for the most part, but the last twenty minutes or so are great, dark, high drama and make great thrilling cinema.

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              11.01.2002 02:08
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              This is the film of the great Charles Dickens novel – Oliver Twist. This film has become a real classic and is nearly always shown on television every Christmas. This is the type of film that a family of many generations sits down to watch after a large meal, and together enjoy the songs and story that have enthralled families for years. At this point most of the teenagers disappear and just leave the young and the old members of any family to follow the Dickens plot. The story starts in a Victorian Workhouse where the young Oliver Twist is chosen to ask to approach the fearsome Mr Bumble (played by Harry Secombe) and to ask for some more food. From this point onwards the life of Oliver Twist is never the same again. The film does not have any special effects, stunts, gimmicks, animations or computer generated effects. There is just a film full of very familiar songs that have become associated every year with Christmas and a story with a happy ending. The actors in this film are excellent. Mark Lester plays the nine year old orphan, Oliver Twist. His angelic looks make him perfect for this part and also he has quite a decent singing voice. Ron Moody is the old and haggard Fagin. As the father figure of a group of young misfits he has a mix of greed and selfishness that is tinged with a heart of kindness. Oliver Reid plays the vicious thief, Bill Sykes. This is an evil character that Reid plays superbly. Shani Wallis plays Nancy, the downtrodden girl friend of Bill Sykes. The story follows the events as Oliver Twist runs away to London to make his fortune and is taken in by a group of mischievous children who make a living by picking the pockets of rich London gentlemen. Oliver is different from the other children and finds a special place in the hearts and minds of the adults. Fagin leads the group of urchins and is soon putting Oliver to work on the streets of London. The film is a collection of song and dance rou
              tines that connect together the different elements of the story. I am not sure if I know the correct names of each song, but a few of the lines that stick in my mind are: “Consider yourself at home.” “Who will buy this beautiful morning.” “I’m reviewing the situation.” “Pick a pocket or two.” The light heartiness of the songs contrasts with the dirt and depravation that surround the children and the miserable lives they lead and the lack of prospects they have for their adult lives. It is this combination of hardship and joy that makes this such a classic film. There must have been hundreds of film extras for the making of this film and the costume department must have been working overtime to provide the enormous number of period outfits required for some of the big song sequences. It is difficult to imagine many people who have not seen this film, or who have not heard the music from the film. I suppose it will continue to be shown every year for people to enjoy and for Dad’s to keep singing the songs and embarrassing the family. A real classic film, that is timeless. I would certainly recommend this for any family get together at Christmas, or any other time of the year.

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            • Product Details

              Film buffs and critics can argue until their faces turn blue about whether this lavish Dickensian musical deserved the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1968, but the movie speaks for itself on grandly entertaining terms. Adapted from Dickens's classic novel, it's one of the most dramatically involving and artistically impressive musicals of the 1960s, directed by Carol Reed with a delightful enthusiasm that would surely have impressed Dickens himself. Mark Lester plays the waifish orphan Oliver Twist, who is befriended by the pickpocketing Artful Dodger (Jack Wild) and recruited into the gang of boy thieves led by Fagin (played to perfection by Ron Moody). The villainous Bill Sikes (Oliver Reed) casts his long shadow over Oliver and his friends, but the young orphan is still able to find loving care in the most desperate of circumstances. Full of memorable melodies and splendid lyrics, Oliver! is a timeless film, prompting even hard-to-please critic Pauline Kael to call it "a superb demonstration of intelligent craftsmanship", and to further observe that "it's as if the movie set out to be a tribute to Dickens and his melodramatic art as well as to tell the story of Oliver Twist."