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Great Expectations Movie Review

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For David Lean's 1946 film of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, John Mills and Valerie Hobson were cast as Pip and Estella, and a one-time advertising copywriter named Alec Guinness, then 32, was cast in the pivotal role of Herbert Pocket. It was the first of seven films Guinness would make with Lean over the next 38 years. Great Expectations and Lean received Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nominations, and the film won two Academy Awards for Guy Green's cinematography and Wilfred Shingleton's art direction. It is perhaps the best of the Dickensian movies, and it certainly etched some indelible impressions on its audiences: Martita Hunt's Miss Havisham chained to her memories and her dreams of revenge, Jean Simmons’ haughty young Estella at the start of a gradual slide into near-madness, and the eerie opening graveyard scene between the boy Pip (Anthony Wager) and the convict Magwitch (Finlay Currie). The mid-Victorian era is captured with precision, as well as the brooding sadness that flavors much of the original novel.

1946 118m/B GB John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Anthony Wager, Alec Guinness, Finlay Currie, Jean Simmons, Bernard Miles, Francis L. Sullivan, Martita Hunt, Freda Jackson, Torin Thatcher, Hay Petrie, Eileen Erskine, George “Gabby” Hayes, Everley Gregg, O.B. Clarence; D: David Lean; W: David Lean, Ronald Neame; C: Guy Green. Academy Awards ‘47: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (B & W), Best Black and White Cinematography; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘47: Best Director (Lean), Best Picture, Best Screenplay. VHS, LV, DVD

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