Taken from the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist, Oliver is a 10 million dollar song-and-dance extravaganza. Set to music by Lionel Bart, Oliver (Mark Lester) is a young orphan who asks for more gruel at the orphanage. He is paraded… More Taken from the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist, Oliver is a 10 million dollar song-and-dance extravaganza. Set to music by Lionel Bart, Oliver (Mark Lester) is a young orphan who asks for more gruel at the orphanage. He is paraded around London by Mr. Bumble, who gives the boy to an undertaker. Oliver does backbreaking work as an apprentice, and soon runs off to join a street wise street urchin known as The Artful Dodger (Jack Wild). The Dodger helps Oliver become a pickpocket and petty thief under his expert tutelage. Oliver Reed plays the criminal heavy Bill Sikes. Shani Wallis plays the ill-fated Nancy. The film glosses over the Dickensian sweat shop horrors of the novel, but the film did tremendously well worldwide at the box office. The screenplay by Vernon Harris, was nominated for an Academy Award. A special Oscar was given for Onna White's choreography, and the category has remained as a standard award since that time. In a year of controversy which saw both Barbara Streisand and Katherine Hepburn tie for "Best Actress," the Academy played it safe and declared Oliver the "Best Picture" of 1968. Public dismay over recent assassinations and the Vietnam War also caused the Academy to bypass more controversial films of the era. Still, Oliver is a delightful film and one of the best musicals ever to come out of England.
Consensus: It has aged somewhat awkwardly, but the performances are inspired, the songs are memorable, and the film is undeniably influential.