Oliver Twist


1h 20m 1933

Brief Synopsis

In Dickens' classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel apprenticeship to den of thieves in search of a true home.

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 28, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Monogram Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Monogram Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens in Bentley's Miscellany (London, Feb 1837--Apr 1839).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

In early nineteenth century England, an anonymous woman dies in a workhouse, and her attendant, Mrs. Corney, steals her wedding ring. Because it then appears that the dead woman was unmarried, her infant son is given to the care of Bumble, the parish beadle, who names him Oliver Twist. On Oliver's ninth birthday, Bumble turns him over to the workhouse, where one afternoon, the hungry child asks for a second helping of gruel. Horrifed by Oliver's audacity, the workhouse superintendent decides that he will have to be given out as an apprentice, but Oliver takes matters into his own hands by running away to London. It is a long walk, and once in the big city, Oliver is glad to make the acquaintance of a friendly chap who calls himself "The Artful Dodger." Dodger promises Oliver food and lodging with a "kindly old man" and takes him to the attic dwelling of Fagin, who makes his living from the ill-gotten goods provided by the boys he has tutored in theft. Under the guise of teaching Oliver a game, Fagin trains the boy how to pick pockets, but on his first outing with Dodger and another of Fagin's boys, Charlie Bates, Oliver is apprehended. The victim is the wealthy Sidney Brownlow, who explains to the arresting officer that it was the other boys, not Oliver, who were responsible for the theft. Brownlow takes Oliver home, and while Oliver is enjoying tea with Brownlow and his niece, Rose Maylie, word reaches Fagin that Oliver has been nabbed. Fagin argues with his foul-tempered cohort, Bill Sikes, and Sikes's wife Nancy, over what to do about Oliver. Their problem is solved when Nancy finds Oliver, who has been sent by Brownlow to return some books after his friend, Grimwig, bet him that the child could not be trusted. Nancy takes Oliver back to Fagin but, touched by the boy's pleas, returns the books to Rose so that Oliver will not be thought a thief. Despite the danger to herself, Nancy agrees to meet with Brownlow and Rose again, but before she can, Oliver is shot when he is forced to help Sikes rob Brownlow's house. Oliver is not seriously wounded, and convalesces with Brownlow and Rose, who are able to meet Nancy a few weeks later. Nancy is followed by Charlie, however, and Fagin, who is jealous of Nancy's influence on Sikes, reveals her activities to Sikes. Sikes beats Nancy to death in a drunken rage, which prompts a police manhunt that ends in Sikes's death and Fagin's arrest as an accomplice to Nancy's murder. Oliver visits the now-insane Fagin in jail, and there Fagin gives him his mother's wedding ring, which was sold to him by Mrs. Corney. Oliver then shows Brownlow the ring, and by its inscription, Brownlow realizes that Oliver is the child of his beloved daughter Agnes, whom he drove away during a quarrel over her marriage. Overjoyed that Oliver is his grandson, Brownlow promises the happy boy that he will have a safe home forever.

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 28, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Monogram Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Monogram Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens in Bentley's Miscellany (London, Feb 1837--Apr 1839).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

While this film is not especially well-remembered today, and has been eclipsed by practically all of the later film versions of the Dickens novel, it did begin a Hollywood "fad" for Dickens which lasted for about five years. It was followed by the 1934 "Great Expectations" (a poorly reviewed and now forgotten version with Jane Wyatt and Phillips Holmes), the classic 1935 M-G-M all-star version of "David Copperfield", Universal's "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" (also 1935, with Claude Rains), the classic 1936 version of "A Tale of Two Cities", another M-G-M Dickens blockbuster, and the M-G-M version of "A Christmas Carol" with Reginald Owen. There would be very few versions of Dickens from Hollywood after that; they would nearly all be made by British studios.

Notes

Motion Picture Herald production charts list Jackie Searle in the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to Film Daily, star Dickie Moore was borrowed from Hal Roach, and Irving Pichel was borrowed from Paramount. A January 1933 Film Daily article indicates that Herbert Brenon, who was originally assigned to direct the film, and I. E. Chadwick, the film's producer, were released from the production shortly before it began. Chadwick does receive a screen credit as producer, however, and Brenon is credited as supervisor. The Film Daily article also notes that executive producer Lou Ostrow signed Mary Brian and Lyle Talbot to the leading roles in addition to Moore. Mary Brian was listed in early Hollywood Reporter production charts, but neither she nor Lyle Talbot appeared in the released film. Hollywood Reporter production charts also list Archie Stout as the film's photographer, but the extent of his participation in the final film is not known. An October 1933 Film Daily news item noted that the film was dubbed into French, Spanish and German.
       The first dramatization of Charles Dickens' serialized novel was performed in London on March 27, 1938. The first American dramatization of Dickens' novel opened in New York on January 7, 1839. Numerous stage productions of the story have been performed in England, the United States and elsewhere. Among the many films based on the novel are: the 1916 Paramount film directed by James Young and starring Marie Doro and Hobart Bosworth (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3226); the 1922 Jackie Coogan Productions film directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.3957); the 1948 British production directed by David Lean and starring Robert Newton and Alec Guinness; and the 1968 British film Oliver!, directed by Carol Reed and starring Ron Moody, Shani Wallis and Mark Lester (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.3593). Roman Polanski directed another film entitled Oliver Twist in 2005, starring Ben Kingsley as Fagan and Barney Clark as Oliver. Televised versions of Oliver Twist include a Dupont Show of the Month production, directed by Dan Petrie and starring Frederick Clark and Eric Portman, which aired on the CBS television network on December 4, 1959; and the ITT Theatre production, directed by Clive Donner and starring George C. Scott and Richard Charles, which aired on the CBS network on March 23, 1982.