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Oliver! (1968) starring Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Jack Wild
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Oliver! (1968) starring Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Shani Wallis, Jack Wild

Synopsis of Oliver!

Musical version of Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” adapted from the stage hit, 1968 Best Picture Oscar.

Review of Oliver!

Oliver! is a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic story of an orphan.  It’s very well done, from the casting, to the acting, to the cinematography, to the songs.  The performances are excellent all around.  Oliver Reed especially shines as the utterly despicable Bill Sikes.  The songs are well done, and memorable, and it’s a delightful movie that I’m glad to recommend.

Cast of characters

  • Oliver (Mark LesterSpaceflight IC-1).  The young orphan at the center of the story.  His mother dies, he’s sent to a workhouse, “rescued” by Fagan.  But someone else looks out for him …
  • Fagin (Ron MoodyUnidentified Flying Oddball).  A man who has organized a gang of children.  To pick pockets, and pay for their expenses.  And his.  He legitimately cares for the children,  especially:
  • The Artful Dodger (Jack WildH. R. Puffinstuff).  One of the best pickpockets, who becomes Oliver’s friend, and introduces him to the criminal life.  And warns him against:
  • Bill Sikes (Oliver ReedThe Three MusketeersCurse of the Werewolf).  Oliver Reed gives an excellent performance as the criminal Bill.  A man without mercy, or compassion, except perhaps for Nancy.  But that doesn’t stop him from hurting her.
  • Nancy (Shani WallisOnce Upon a Mattress).  Bill’s live-in girlfriend.  Not a good person, but someone who still cares about people.  And risks her life to help Oliver.
  • Bumble (Harry SecombeSunstruck).  The man running the orphanage, who is outraged when Oliver asks for more porridge.  “More?!?”

Songs in Oliver!

Product Description of Oliver!

Experience the high-spirited adventures of Oliver Twist in this Oscar(r)-winning musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale! Young Oliver (Mark Lester) is an orphan who escapes the cheerless life of the workhouse and takes to the streets of 19th-Century London. He’s immediately taken in by a band of street urchins, headed by the lovable villain, Fagin (Ron Moody), his fiendish henchman, Bill Sikes (Oliver Reed), and his loyal apprentice, The Artful Dodger (Jack Wild).

Through his education in the fine points of pick-pocketing, Oliver makes away with an unexpected treasure… a home and a family of his own. Set to a heartfelt score that includes such favorites as “Consider Yourself,” “Where Is Love?” and “As Long As He Needs Me,” Oliver! leads us on a journey in search of love, belonging, and honor among thieves. Winner of six Academy Awards(r) (1968), including Best Picture and Best Score, Oliver! will steal your heart!

Editorial review of Oliver! courtesy of

Film buffs and critics can argue until their faces turn blue about whether this lavish Dickensian musical deserved the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1968, but the movie speaks for itself on grandly entertaining terms. Adapted from Dickens’s classic novel, it’s one of the most dramatically involving and artistically impressive musicals of the 1960s, directed by Carol Reed with a delightful enthusiasm that would surely have impressed Dickens himself.

Mark Lester plays the waifish orphan Oliver Twist, who is befriended by the pickpocketing Artful Dodger (Jack Wild) and recruited into the gang of boy thieves led by Fagin (played to perfection by Ron Moody). The villainous Bill Sikes (Oliver Reed) casts his long shadow over Oliver and his friends, but the young orphan is still able to find loving care in the most desperate of circumstances. Full of memorable melodies and splendid lyrics, Oliver! is a timeless film, prompting even hard-to-please critic Pauline Kael to call it “a superb demonstration of intelligent craftsmanship,” and to further observe that “it’s as if the movie set out to be a tribute to Dickens and his melodramatic art as well as to tell the story of Oliver Twist.” –Jeff Shannon

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