Saturday, February 15, 2014

Movie Junk 101.1–Some Thoughts on Oliver

In some quarters, for whatever reason, Director Carol Reed’s Oliver! has taken some heat.

There are those who claim that Oliver! was not a worthy choice for the Best Picture Oscar back in 1969.

It seems these detractors continue to be butthurt after over forty years because 2001: A Space Odyssey wasn’t even nominated for the award, although the director, Stanly Kubrick was nominated for best director, an award which went to Reed. I think most of the complaints come from Geeky Internet Fanboys who view 2001 as a Masterpiece. As for myself, I find it quite flawed for several reasons as I mentioned when I rated the movie a week or so ago.

You want to talk robbery? That would be Cliff Robertson’s overrated turn as Charly in the movie of the same name over Ron Moody who played Fagin. That’s robbery.

I have many musicals that I love and will watch from time to time. Oliver is one of them. Having finally acquired the limited edition blu-ray from Twilight Time is icing on the cake. The picture quality of Oliver is terrific, although I felt that the sound mix left something to be desired and could use a little more oomph. But I’ll take this any day of the week when you consider how many times I passed on the DVD hoping for something better. This is a lot better.

Oliver! is a musical which is based on Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. It had a lengthy run as a Tony Award winning stage play by composer Lionel Bart before making it to the big screen and the transition couldn’t have been in better hands.

The casting is perfect. I already mentioned Moody, but Oliver Reed is as dour and menacing a Bill Sykes as there ever was. Jack Wild nearly steals the show as The Artful Dodger, and Mark Lester brings just the right wide eyed naïve innocence as Oliver even if his singing voice had to be dubbed.
Often forgotten and hardly mentioned is Shani Wallis who plays Nancy. I don’t know why. As the good hearted prostitute who tries to protect Oliver while not trying to piss off her boyfriend Sykes, she won me over. And her big musical numbers are outstanding.

In fact, all of the musical numbers that made the transition from the play are. I thought Onna White’s choreography was sometimes a bit overproduced and a bit crowded, but I still enjoyed every second of it.

How does Oliver compare with greats like West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, and Mary Poppins? It’s right up there with that bunch as far as I’m concerned and if you get a chance to see it, you won’t be sorry. Five Stars from me.

And if you want the Blu-ray, better get to it. Remember that Twilight only puts out 3000 copies. When they are gone, they are gone except for extravagant sums from 3rd Party Sellers. Check it out here.

(6 photos)

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