Expressionistic noir photography suffuses David Lean's Oliver Twist
with a nightmarish quality, fitting its bleak, industrial setting. In Dickens' classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel apprenticeship to den of thieves in search of a true home. Here Alec Guinness is the quintessential Fagin, his controversial performance fully restored in Criterion's new digital transfer.
David Lean's 1948 version of Charles Dickens' classic novel begins with a bang: the young hero's pregnant mother fighting her way through a storm, a perfect metaphor for Oliver's difficult road ahead. Set in a world of slums in the shadow of Victorian England, the story traces the boy's life in a workhouse and then with a gang of little pickpockets. A stark but good-looking film shot around some impressive sets, Lean's immortal adaptation is perhaps best known for Alec Guinness's remarkable (and slightly controversial) performance as Fagin, the old mentor to the gang of boy thieves. --Tom Keogh