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David Copperfield

4.5 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"We are friends for life." The man speaking: Micawber, played by W.C. Fields with great comedic charm and human warmth. The child addressed: David, played by Freddie Bartholomew in his Hollywood debut. The movie: David Copperfield, still one of the best-ever screen adaptations of a Charles Dickens novel. "To call the casting inspired is to underrate it," historian David Shipman wrote in his The Story of Cinema. Lionel Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, Maureen O'Sullivan, Basil Rathbone and more joined Fields and Bartholomew in portraying the eccentrics, cads and loving family of this film directed by George Cukor. David O. Selznick produced, insisting on an attention to Dickensian detail that included matching the sets to the first edition's illustrations. The result: one of the greatest page-to-screen adaptations ever.

DVD Features:
Theatrical Trailer


The rich beauties of Dickens come to flavorful life in David Copperfield, a scrupulous example of a sprawling novel distilled into manageable movie form. The saga of young master Copperfield moves quickly through Dickens' marvelous gallery of eccentrics, with David played as a youth by the exceptionally good Freddie Bartholomew (you'll see why he became a star) and as an adult by Frank Lawton. The remainder of the cast is an almost unbelievable feast of acting, most famously with W.C. Fields stepping out of character--but not too far--as the grandiloquent Mr. Micawber ("You perceive before you the shattered fragments of a temple that was once called Man"). Basil Rathbone is David's stepfather, the ice-cold Murdstone; Lionel Barrymore is warm-hearted Dan Peggoty; Maureen O'Sullivan the adorable Dora; and Roland Young a creepy-crawly Uriah Heep. But best of all is Edna May Oliver, whose Betsy Trotwood bustles through the movie like a no-nonsense field general (if Oscars for supporting acting had been invented in 1935 instead of 1936, Oliver surely would have bagged the first award). The film is a shining example of producer David O. Selznick's Tradition of Quality approach, given all the sheen MGM could apply. Director George Cukor brings empathy and an unfailing sense of dramatic craftsmanship to the episodic material, which throbs with genuinely Dickensian wit and heart. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Vintage Technicolor Musical Shorts: Pirate Party on Catalina Isle and Two Hearts in Wax Time
  • Classic M-G-M cartoon Poor Little Me
  • Audio-Only bonus: Leo Is on the Air Radio Promo
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Freddie Bartholomew, Frank Lawton, Edna May Oliver, Elizabeth Allan, Jessie Ralph
  • Directors: Gene Burdette, George Cukor, Hugh Harman
  • Writers: Hugh Walpole, Gene Burdette, Alexander Van Dorn, Charles Dickens, Howard Estabrook
  • Format: Full Screen, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GRUQK6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,991 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "David Copperfield" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 14, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Dickens, with his vast humanity and that amazing vitality of his which created a whole world of characters, contains inexhaustable riches for the screen, though his long rambling plots are the despair of scenerio writers. His people--types, caricatures, or whatever you choose to call them--are distict and individual in appearance, actions and speech--and are rare parts for good actors. The trick in getting Dickens effectively on the screen was an enormously difficult one of selecting and condensing--keeping enough to satisfy the Dickens lover who complains bitterly when any favourite character or episode is left out. Some may find Dickens as being overlong, overly sentimental and often more than a bit tedious; at any rate, however, this is excellent Dickens! Good intentions and imposing ambitions are plentiful enough in the making of movies, but woefully rare are the instances where technical excellence, good taste and judgement and an intelligent sense of the rightness of things combined to bring thowe intentions and ambitions to a successful issue. DAVID COPPERFIELD is one of those rare and happy successes. It met every reasonable expectation competently and generously, and the film was highly praised by the critics and public alike back in 1935. This filmed version of the classic novel by Dickens, is remarkably faithful to the source - rich in atmosphere and fine characterisations. David himself is played ideally by both Freddie Bartholomew and Frank Lawton; they miraculously seem to be the same person at different ages! If Frank Lawton seems less interesting, its only because his adventures are so mild compared with those of Bartholomew. W.C. Fields' whole career seemed to have been a preparation for his role as Micawber; he is magnificent in his off-beat role.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
There are so many adaptations of Charles Dickens, but many of them in and after the 1950s are actually made for television like BBC mini-series. The golden era of the Dickens FILMs was the 1930s and 40s, when David Lean's `Great Expectations' and `Oliver Twist' were produced in England. Before these classics, however, Hollywood also made two great films based on Dickens in the same year from the same studio: MGM's 1935 version of `Tale of Two Cities' and `David Copperfield.'

George Cukor's `David Copperfield' respectfully treats the immortal characters Dickens created. The original's plot was never changed drastically, and you still feel that this is a Hollywood film - Hollywood in the 1930s when the name of producer David O. Selznick appears on the screen AFTER the director's name. Then the film shows a book cover, and someone slowly turns over the page. No one makes films like this today

The film starts with the delightful turn of Edna May Oliver as Aunt Betsy Trotwood, one of the juiciest roles in this film, and she never disappoints us. Beautiful Elizabeth Allan (then on contract to MGM, also seen in `Tale of Two Cities') effectively plays the young mother of David, too young and maybe foolish. Basil Rathbone as chilling Murdstone makes a great contrast with her sunny personality that is destroyed by his cold heart.

Cukor's `David Copperfield' is usually associated with W. C. Fields's Mr. Micawber, which is surely convincing and funny without overacting, but as I have pointed out, there are so many good actors besides Fields (who actually replaced Charles Laughton after the shooting had started).
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Format: VHS Tape
Charles Dickens, like Jane Austen, is a 19th Century writer whose stories translate very well to the cinema. It is because of the strength of the characters and the fact that most of the stories have a happy ending and the baddies end up properly punished.
David Copperfield, while somewhat faded in the physical quality of the video itself, as a film is a perfect example. It's full of wonderful character actors who seem to be having the times of their lives in their parts.
Basil Rathbone is at his villanest, as the evil stepfather, Mr. Murdstone. Roland Young is particularly effective as the slimey Uriah Heep. And the great W.C. Fields personifies the always hopeful Mr. Micawber. Dickens would have loved his interpretation of the wonderful mountebank.
The only clinker in the whole cast is Freddie Bartholomew, who often comes across as a whiney twit. I'm sure Fields would have liked to have given him a kick in the pants, like he did Baby LeRoy in The Old-Fashioned Way.
I recommend the film heartily for young and old. You will certainly recognize the same virtues and vices in people you see today. Unfortunately, good and evil nowadays don't always result in the same outcomes as in Charles Dicken's time.
When you've finished this film, move on to Great Expectations with Alec Guiness, Jean Simmons and John Mills; Oliver Twist with Alec Guiness, Robert Newton and Anthony Newley and A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. If you aren't dripping with good will and cheer by then, let's face it you're either dead or Scrooged.
Happy Holidays!
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