Oliver!

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(1968) ★★★★

Sky Movies Greats: Sunday 28 June, 3.10pm

Consider yourself one of the few British musicals to match the sheer spectacle and spirit of MGM’s vintage Hollywood shows. Mark Lester is the cherubic young master Twist in the splendid Oscar-winning musical version of the enduring Dickens workhouse classic. Great songs by Lionel Bart (who died in 1999, bankrupt, diabetic and alcoholic) and definitive Dickens casting: Ron Moody funny as Fagin, Oliver Reed scary as Bill Sikes, Shani Wallis as poor doomed Nancy, and Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger. Moody’s fabulous Fagin eclipses even Alec Guinness’ notorious turn in David Lean’s classic Oliver Twist (1948) and yet he wasn’t first choice for the role he’d already made his own on stage. He got the film only after Peter Sellers and Peter O’Toole declined to pick a pocket or two. Poor Ron wasn’t even first choice when the obituaries came out last month. He died at age 91 the same week in June as fellow Londoner Christopher Lee (93), whose passing made the front pages. ITV4 has Lee’s own personal favourite film, 1973’s The Wicker Man, on Saturday at 11.30pm. An occasionally harrowing occult cult item, it was originally released as B-pic support to Nicolas Roeg’s deathless masterpiece Don’t Look Now. Talking of masterpieces, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey failed to win the Best Picture Oscar thanks to Oliver! Despite the Academy’s perverse priorities – akin to acclaiming Titanic over L.A. Confidential 30 years later – Oliver! is still a musical worthy of exclamation. And it also remains the last time a U certificate (or G-rated) picture won the main prize. Oddly enough, that record would still stand had 2001 won.

Certificate: U

Duration: 140min

Other Showings Time & Date
Sky Movies Greats Monday, 29 June at 3:55AM