Oliver! Is a musical motion picture based on the stage musical of the same name which is turn is based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. The movie version, released in 1968 won six Oscars from eleven nominations and forty-five years later remains one of the most popular musicals of all time. I have some problems with the central character and the acting and if I’m honest I can’t stand the overblown amateur dramatic feeling to some of the scenes but even I must say that Oliver! features a great story and some wonderful direction. The songs also do nothing for me but the final act is built up towards a tense and surprisingly terrifying conclusion.
Oliver Twist (Mark Lester) is an orphan, living in that wickedest of Victorian institutions, the Workhouse. He is sold to an Undertaker but mistreated and escapes to London where he falls in with a pickpocket called Artful Dodger (Jack Wild) and his boss/carer Fagin (Ron Moody). Oliver is caught and tried for a crime he didn’t commit and taken into the care of a wealthy benefactor but worried he will talk about who and what he has seen, fiendish criminal Bill Sykes (Oliver Reed) is desperate to take him back to Fagin.