OLIVER TWIST (1948)
1948, Park Circus/MGM, 116 min, UK, Dir: David Lean

A startlingly real, atmospheric evocation of childhood terrors and the evils of poverty. Innocent orphan Oliver (John Howard Davies) is shanghaied into a gang of child thieves by blackguard Bill Sykes (a particularly chilling Robert Newton). Alec Guinness’ masterful, almost unrecognizable performance as the Jewish kingpin of boy thieves, Fagin, led to unexpected problems when the film was denounced as anti-Semitic by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; in Berlin, rioters tore the theater apart where the film was shown, and its release was delayed for three years in the U.S. to let tensions ease. “OLIVER TWIST moves forward in staccato bursts, propelled by coiling tensions and by outbursts of sudden, brutish violence. … This is possibly David Lean’s wildest movie, certainly his darkest and arguably his best.” -Al McKee, Film Comment.


THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI
2014, Sony Repertory, 161 min, UK, USA, Dir: David Lean

David Lean won the first of two Academy Awards for Best Director for this epic portrait of the clash of wills between a British POW, Col. Nicholson (Alec Guinness, who initially turned down the role), and a tradition-bound Japanese officer (silent-film star Sessue Hayakawa) over the building of a railway bridge in the jungle during WWII. William Holden stars as the cynically realistic American POW who is forced to trek back into the hellish jungle to destroy the bridge with Jack Hawkins and his rag-tag team of commandos. Brilliantly adapted by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson from Pierre Boulle’s novel, with an unforgettable score courtesy of Malcolm Arnold. “There has been a lot of argument about the film’s attitude toward war. I think it is a painfully eloquent statement on the general folly and waste of war.” -David Lean


GREAT EXPECTATIONS
1946, MGM Repertory, 118 min, UK, Dir: David Lean

The film that set the standard for all Dickens adaptations before or since. Director David Lean’s early masterpiece opens with the awesome images of a convict stumbling across a storm-wracked moor, and then plunges us into the story of an impoverished underdog, Pip (John Mills) trying to defy the rigid caste system of Victorian England. Co-starring Alec Guinness (in his first film for Lean), Jean Simmons, Francis L. Sullivan and Valerie Hobson, with Oscar-winning, black-and-white photography by Guy Green. "Probably no finer Dickens film has been made than Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS." – Michael Pointer, Charles Dickens On Screen.


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