David Lean

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

Expressionistic noir photography suffuses David Lean’s Oliver Twist with a nightmarish quality, fitting its bleak, industrial setting. In Dickens’ classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel apprenticeship to den of thieves in search of a true home. Here Alec Guinness is the quintessential Fagin, his controversial performance fully restored in Criterion’s digital transfer.

Film Info

  • David Lean
  • United Kingdom
  • 1948
  • 116 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • English
  • Spine #32

Special Features

  • The original theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

New cover by Gordon Reynolds

Purchase Options

Collector's Sets

Collector's Set

Great Adaptations

Great Adaptations

DVD Box Set

4 Discs


Special Features

  • The original theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

New cover by Gordon Reynolds

Oliver Twist
Robert Newton
Bill Sykes
Alec Guinness
Kay Walsh
Francis L. Sullivan
Mr. Bumble
Henry Stephenson
Mr. Brownlow
Mary Clare
Mrs. Corney
Anthony Newley
Artful Dodger
John Howard Davies
Oliver Twist
David Lean
Ronald Neame
Sir Arnold Bax
Margaret Furse
Jack Harris
Guy Green
David Lean
Stanley Haynes
Based on the novel by
Charles Dickens

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Oliver Twist

By Michael Sragow

On Film / Essays — Jan 12, 1999


David Lean


For many cinephiles, the name David Lean signifies grand moviemaking—sweeping epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. But the long and eclectic career of this legendary British director encompasses arresting intimacy as well, as evidenced by the films of his in the Criterion Collection. Among those are pictures that he was responsible for editing, early on in his work in film: some of his national cinema’s greatest hits, including Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard’s Pygmalion, Gabriel Pascal’s Major Barbara, and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 49th Parallel. In the forties and early fifties, having moved to directing, he made several luminous films, including adaptations of such classic and important contemporary works from the stage and page as Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice, Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit and Still Life (Brief Encounter, in the film version), and Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. All are graced by evocative, shadowy black-and-white cinematography and elegantly restrained compositions. Summertime, his gorgeous 1955 Technicolor trip to Venice with Katharine Hepburn, marked a turning point in his career: the sun-dappled location shoot was galvanizing for Lean, and the remainder of his films, from The Bridge on the River Kwai to A Passage to India, could be considered outdoor spectacles. Yet Lean’s deep interest in complex characters, his brilliant way with actors, and his classic sense of storytelling were never trumped by scale.