Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jackie Coogan, Lon Chaney, James A. Marcus, Edouard Trebaol, George Siegmann, Gladys Brockwell, Lionel Belmore
Written by: Walter Anthony, Frank Lloyd, Harry Weil, based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Directed by: Frank Lloyd
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 77
Date: 10/30/1922
IMDB

Oliver Twist (1922)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Twist of Legend'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This silent version of Charles Dickens's 1838 novel is, above anythingelse, a triumph of casting. Lon Chaney plays Fagin, the gnarled old manwho teaches orphans and street urchins how to pick pockets. WithChaney's mix of make-up mastery and his built-in tragic face, he makesthe perfect Fagin, perhaps unequalled in the history of cinema. In thelead role, Jackie Coogan came fresh from his enormous success in CharlesChaplin's The Kid (1921), bringing his awesome screen presence andsupreme pathos to the role. Otherwise, director Frank Lloyd cuts thestory way down to a speedy 77 minutes, forsaking great chunks of thenovel in order to capture its essence. David Lean's 1948 film is aricher experience, but Lloyd's gets closer to the bone.

Though not a terribly interesting director in general, Lloyd went on to direct two Best Picture Oscar winners in the sound era, Cavalcade (1933) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), winning two Best Director awards (for The Divine Lady and Cavalcade) in the process.

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