First off what can be said that hasn't already been said about this powerful masterpiece of musical cinema. I grew up with this musical and it's always been a part of my life besides The Wizard of Oz it's probably the one movie I've seen more than any other film.
I thoroughly make the statement that few would disagree with, that this goes up there with the greatest musicals ever done. It's one of the greatest music adaptations to any story. This left a lingering mark on me and most every viewer that witnessed it, at a young age and even at an older age today, it remains with you. This was a film that captured a young boy finding himself in a world that kept beating him down. A boy in a world that felt lackluster. A boy in a world that he didn't belong. A boy in a world without parents, companionship or love.
Oliver! is a harsh hell of an era of poverty. Oliver! Is of an era of crime and of an era of the upper-class segregated from the lower-class, pretty much the same as it is today.
Oliver! is orphaned due to his mother dying and he soon finds himself shipped to one orphanage after another. Work labor, beatings, lack of food. The children were treated like trash, poverty, the children meant nothing or were only to be slaves. Soon Oliver is forced during a meal time to ask for more of the slop he has been given to eat and because of that great heinous act of asking for food, for his starving stomach, he is sold to another family that mistreats him just the same.
After many circumstances Oliver finds himself on the street when he comes in contact with the wonderful Artful Dodger that leads him to the old man, Fagin, inside a run down attic of a building where all his street children live. It's a place where he has let the children of poverty and of the street live. Oliver finds himself joining the crowd of pickpocket children from one theft to another theft.
Soon one ordeal after the other and Oliver finds himself inside weird situations. Soon those situations change when caring hands and loving hugs find there way to Oliver. Ultimately the lifestyle of crime continues to haunt him as he seeks out wanting to live a peaceful life.
This stars some of the greatest actors to ever grace stage or screen. The one and only powerful master of cinema Oliver Reed. The one and only actor that has given us some great villains, some great moments in cinema history. Sadly Oliver Reed has passed but his legacy lives on through classics like this.
Oliver Reed played the villain Bill Sikes in Oliver! to an award worthy performance. I've always felt Reed never got the credit he deserved, never got the push he deserved. His talent for the screen was brilliant. He was flawless in any performance he did, weather it was a lower budget cinema piece, to a higher class piece of cinema. He gave it his all, no matter what.
The character Reed played, Bill always frightened me as a kid. He truly was a gifted villain. He was spooky and I was scared of him as a child growing up with this musical. He always frightened me. That goes to show you the emotional appeal, the very down to earth reality-based acting Reed possessed. He gave it his all in this movie. He made you think that he was the dirtiest, scummy and vilest human imaginable.
Of the 120 acting performances that Reed did Oliver is one that showcases the beauty of his career. Showcases how much of a gifted actor he was and yet he had very few lines in the movie. What made him a brilliant actor was with his body motion, emotions surfacing on his face, the reaction to other actors in there parts. He made you feel his attitude, his anger, his so-called evil-ness. Oliver Reed was the nephew to the director of Oliver! Carol Reed.
The one performance moment that will always stand out with me and truly haunted me as a child and made me cry and still to this day is disturbing and horrible to watch is when Bill strikes down Nancy.
That brings me to the next actress to honor this movie with grace, her beauty, her amazing talent. She was a beautiful goddess and a one-of-a-kind performer. She gave it her all in the role of Nancy. I speak of none other than Shani Wallis. I fell in love with Nancy as a child, she was so sweet, so kind, so lovable, so fragile and she felt so lost. I looked at her and because of the amazing acting of Wallis made me believe and think she was real.
No one can do a review of Oliver! and not talk about the quintessential character of the movie, the one and only Fagin. Played by the master craft man of stage and of screen, the one and only Ron Moody. His talent is unspeakable. His talent is hard to put into words. He is truly a gifted master. He gave everything and more than any actor should give to a part. He created a whole atmosphere, a persona and a character that will be remembered throughout cinema history.
What's so amazing is Ron was born in 1924 and as of this writing he is still kicking it, still acting, still performing and entertaining. He is an actor that should be looked at by other up and coming actors to become something truly original. He is an amazing one-of-a-kind performer that there are so few of. Ron made Fagin stick in my mind throughout my whole life. I named my first and only cat after Fagin. I had Fagin for 14 years and every time I looked at him all I could think of was Fagin from Oliver!.
Now the next two that I speak of are the two child actors that made Oliver! what it was. To differentiate between the two, will be hard, somesay this child actor created the better part and some say this child created the better part but in reality both actors created their characters and made the movie of Oliver! So what two actors do I speak of, well first, the wonderful character Artful Dodger played by Jack Wild. Which this performance of Dodger would get him an Oscar nomination.
Jack Wild was a true, true actor that loved performing. Sadly he passed away in 2006 at a young age from mouth cancer. In the acting business Wild was never given the chance he deserved. He was such a talented youth and a talented young man but slowly the acting world seemed to dwindle him away and cast him in secondary parts when he had all the amazing qualities of a lead actor. He would go on after Oliver to star in one of the greatest cult TV shows ever the American television series "H.R. Pufnstuf" created by Sid and Marty Krofft productions. He will always be remembered for the Artful Dodger in Oliver! He captured the performance of this street wise homeless kid, pickpocketing, trying to be this adventurist young man, holding his own, to an artful, artful reality. Wild gave a priceless character that will remain throughout cinema history, that will always be remembered.
Jack Wild was a true actor, someone that never got the chance he deserved, someone that owned the screen, someone that gave his all, someone that sadly was mistreated throughout his acting career, never given the chance. But as long as there are companies like Twilight Time to release wonderful crafted Blu-rays that can pass the wonders of what movies are, what movies
are meant to be, his legacy will stand. This is a movie of the past that is the quality of excellence in the masterpiece mentality for a new generation to have.
Next we have to go to the one and only character of the name of the movie Oliver! Oliver is played by Mark Lester. Mark gave Oliver life. Mark made you believe in Oliver. Mark made you understand Oliver. Mark made you feel sympathy, tragedy, heart ache, sadness and pain for Oliver. He performed his butt off in this movie. He gave you the sweet shy innocent little boy lost in the world seeking to find a permanent place to call home.
When I look at musicals or entertainment in general I always come back to Mark Lester's performance. Because to me this young boy captured everything you could want in a child actor or in an adult actor, he gave you all the attitude, the emotion all wrapped up into this one character. Mark Lester stopped acting in 1977 and dropped off the face of the earth in the entertainment industry to become an acupuncturist. Recently he popped up and will appear in 2015's movie titled 1066 as he plays King Harold the second. Talk about a gap in performances from 1977 to 2015 that is 36 years.
Now here's a little trivia for you, he's not singing in the movie. His voice is not his when he is singing. Mark Lester could not sing so he was dubbed with the voice of the wonderful talent of Kathe Green. She would go on to record Motown records.
I think something that's amazing that very few people realize is all the buildings, the houses, all the walkways where built. Massive stage sets. Everything was filmed on stages that where created flawlessly and brilliant. These are works of art.
Oliver! was given the honor of being nominated for 11 Academy Awards. It won six including, Best Picture and Best Director.
I personally do not see or do not hear any negative with this transfer by Twilight Time. I think they did a fantastic and wonderful job capturing the beauty that this film is through its visual images and its wonderful musical clarity. I don't think I have ever seen Oliver! shine so beautiful and bright.
This is a limited Blu-ray of only 3,000 units. First things first, I would like to say, you need to seek this out if you love great Cinema or great musicals. Oliver! is the one to own. Oliver! is the one to cherish and the Twilight Time Blu-ray is an amazing picture and restored beauty.
The amazing features are new interviews with Mark Lester who plays Oliver (15 minutes) and Ron Moody who plays Fagin (13minutes). Both of these are priceless and must see interviews. To hear Mark Lester grown up say "Please Sir can I have some more", again made me giddy and smile a huge grin. It was wonderful seeing Ron Moody still alive and still has the wonder of Fagin's reality. It was wonderful hearing them talk about Jack Wild and Oliver Reed.
You get a cute fun karaoke sing-a-long and a dance tutorial with an instructor for the numbers “Be Back Soon,” “Food, Glorious Food,” and “I’d Do Anything”. Original Trailer, and an old Behind the Scenes Feature.
This is a top-notch quality creation and perfect to seek out one of the 3000 units. It's a must own, must see piece of cinema history that I highly recommend. I think it's something that any movie buff should own.
Twilight Time did a wonderful job in creating this magical musical for a new generation with this new limited edition Blu-ray.