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.


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