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Oliver! Review

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Charles Dickens famous novel of a small boy, Oliver Twist, who escapes from a poor house to join a gang of pickpockets on the London streets as led by the conniving Fagin, adapted as a fully-fledged musical.

★★★★★

Unforgettable songs, peerless source material, lovely art direction, and twinkling performances all round, yet it still beggars belief that this late ‘60s musical adaptation of Oliver Twist tiptoed away with the Best Picture Oscar. Talk about daylight robbery. While, this is a lovingly made family favourite, with Mark Lester the cleanest boy ever to grace a screen as Oliver himself, it is chirpy rather than important, chipper rather than valuable.

Much pleasure is to be had from the big numbers — Food, Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, et al — showy, street carnivals that spill about of the pantomimic rather than grim Victoriana. For the caustic, social bleakness of Dickens’ disenchantment best to stick with the David Lean version (with no songs). This is slight, romantic repositioning of social commentary as glossy vaudeville hi-jinks with two outstanding performances — coursing with barely tamed violence Oliver Reed is the industry standard for Bill Sykes, and Ron Moody’s tragi-wicked Fagin nabbed him a nomination.

Even if you're not a 'fan' of the musicals, Oliver is so witty, so bright and so endearing that even the iciest viewer should start melting in it's corona.

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