Following within a year of the release of David Lean's popular and highly regarded GREAT EXPECTATIONS, it was inevitable that this adaptation of a Dickens novel would be compared to the earlier effort. It was, and it came up lacking. Bond is the young man who toils in a boys' school in
Yorkshire where he has been apprenticed by his thoroughly reprehensible uncle, played by Hardwicke. Conditions at the school are appalling, and Bond befriends one of the students, Aubrey Woods, who has been the victim of much of the brutality at the school. They escape, join a traveling theatrical
troupe, and enjoy a series of adventures, with Bond meeting and falling in love with Jill Balcon. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Hardwicke has provided testimony that sent Balcon's father to debtor's prison as part of an an attempt to force Balcon to marry him. Drayton,
Hardwicke's henchman, kidnaps Woods and, though he is rescued by Bond, he dies from the abuse he has been subjected to by Hardwicke. Bond discovers that Woods was Hardwicke's son, and that Hardwicke had abandoned the boy at an early age to acquire a fortune that rightfully belonged to Woods. When
Bond reveals his discovery, the shamed Hardwicke kills himself, and Bond and Balcon find happiness together. Casting couldn't be better and Cavalcanti has created an authentic Dickensian mood, but too much story is compressed into the film, making it difficult to follow. The producer's daughter,
Jill, made her screen debut here, as did Woods, both coming from the British stage. Neither would make much of a mark in the movie world, however.
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