Oliver!
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Inspired by Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, Lionel Bart's 1961 London and Broadway musical hit glossed over some of Dickens' more graphic passages but managed to retain a strong subtext to what was essentially light entertainment. For its first half-hour or so, Carol Reed's Oscar-winning 1968 film version does a masterful job of telling its story almost exclusively through song and dance. Once nine-year-old orphan Oliver Twist (Mark Lester) falls in with such underworld types as pickpocket Fagin (Ron Moody) and murderous thief Bill Sykes (Oliver Reed), it becomes necessary… More
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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The focus of the movie is so wide, and the logistics of the production so heavy, that Oliver himself, dutifully played by 9-year-old Mark Lester, gets flattened out and almost lost, as if he had been run over by a studio bulldozer."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"In retrospect, it seems emblematic of the triviality Reed descended to in the last years of his career. The Third Man it's not."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Even if you're not a fan of the musicals, Oliver is so witty, so bright and so endearing that even the iciest viewer should start melting in its corona."
‑ Ian Nathan, Empire Magazine
"Glorious musical based on Dickens' Oliver Twist."
‑ Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
"Overrated at the time of release, the Oscar-winning Oliver! is a skillful but unexciting movie musical, one that softens considerably Dicken's famous novel, and not helped much by the mediocre staging of the production numbers."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"There's plenty of mileage left in the famous story."
‑ Rich Gold, Variety
"Reed is craftsman enough to make an efficient family entertainment out of Lionel Bart's musical, but not artist enough to put back any of Dickens' teeth which Bart had so assiduously drawn."
‑ , Time Out
"Today, it works well as a child's introduction to Dickens."
‑ Tony Sloman, Radio Times
"Has little bite."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Oliver! is better than most screen musicals of the 1960s, a period when oversized, poorly rendered songfests virtually killed the genre."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"After a season of watching inane twitching in the name of dance, the viewer is most happily greeted by Onna White's choreography, an exuberant step-by-step exploration of Victorian zeal."
‑ , TIME Magazine
"A treasure of a movie."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"In adapting Lionel Bart's lavish musical for the screen, director Carol Reed tempered the sticky sentimentality with suitably Dickensian scenes of squalor."
‑ , Total Film
"Reed's memorable and epic musical provides good family fun, some great musical numbers and in Fagin, the Artful Dodger, and Sykes, some of cinema's most beloved unsavoury characters."
‑ , Film4
"An intense and inspired musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story about an orphan's amazing ordeal on the streets of the big city."
‑ Wesley Lovell, Cinema Sight
More reviews for Oliver! on Rotten Tomatoes

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