Cast with a Who’s Who of British acting legends, this mini-series version of Dickens’ novel tells you everything you ever wanted to know about Oliver’s parentage.
Impregnated by a married man named Edwin Leeford (Tim Dutton), the disgraced Agnes Fleming (Sophia Myles) exiles herself from her happy home. Though Leeford intends to do right by Agnes, he's gone to Rome to claim an inheritance, which will enable him to pay off his greedy wife, Elizabeth (Lindsay Duncan), and his sniveling son, Monks (Marc Warren). To that end, he revises his bequests and dispatches the document to his friend, Mr. Brownlow (Michael
Kitchen) in England. But the spiteful Elizabeth poisons
Leeford and vows to get her hands on Agnes, her infant, and Leeford's inconvenient new will. Agnes dies after giving birth in a workhouse and a greedy midwife steals a locket that is the only proof of Agnes’ legitimate claim to Edwin’s estate.
Her child, Oliver (Sam Smith), becomes a ward of the state, growing up poor and mistreated by his guardians. Oliver runs off to London, where he meets the
Artful Dodger (Alex Crowley), a pickpocketing recruiter for Fagin (Robert Lindsay), and while learning the ways of the streets he bumps into Brownlow, who defends the urchin from a false charge of theft. Brownlow gives the ragamuffin a place to stay and soon becomes curious about his young houseguest’s origins. Snatched back by Fagin’s boss, Bill Sykes (Andy Serkis), tiny Oliver learns that he’s just the right size for house-breaking. But when the police close in on Bill’s crime network, Oliver becomes a liability; Sykes’ girlfriend, Nancy (Emily Woof), risks her own neck to tip off Brownlow. The chase to rescue Oliver is on!
Screenwriter Alan Bleasdale boldly embellishes this classic tale of innocence wronged and then rewarded, fashioning a lengthy prologue out of an epilogue that Dickens dashed off in a few paragraphs. Not all of his additions ring true, but the story proper proceeds without a hitch.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: NR
- Review: Cast with a Who’s Who of British acting legends, this mini-series version of Dickens’ novel tells you everything you ever wanted to know about Oliver’s parentage. Impregnated by a married man named Edwin Leeford (Tim Dutton), the disgraced Agnes Fleming… (more)