An adaptation, obviously, of the Charles Dickens novel and the subsequent Lionel Bart musical, this is also just about the most successful British film there has ever been. Directed by Carol Reed, it gained 11 Oscar nominations and won six, including best picture and best director. OK, but why? Well, it’s just a pleasure, packed as it is with mostly cheerful songs such as Consider Yourself, Pick a Pocket or Two and I’d Do Anything, which make it much more upbeat than Oliver Twist. In essence Reed stays true to Dickens’s story, following Oliver (nine-year-old Mark Lester) as he is ejected from the orphanage and falls into the dubious company of a gang of youthful pickpockets. But charming though young Lester is, Reed rightly gives more emphasis to the older bad guys, eliciting splendid performances from a fine supporting cast that includes Ron Moody (Fagin), Oliver Reed (Bill Sikes), Harry Secombe (Mr Bumble) and Jack Wild (the Artful Dodger).
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