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Oliver Twist Movie Review

coogan frank jackie lloyd

Filmgoers today mainly remember Jackie Coogan for two roles: 1921's The Kid with Charlie Chaplin and 1964's Uncle Fester on The Addams Family television series. Coogan, however, made many movies as a child and even more as an adult character actor. Until its rediscovery some years back, one of his earliest and best silent files was long feared lost. Coogan was barely eight when Oliver Twist was released, a bit young for the part that is usually played by boys of nine or ten, but his small size makes his character even more lovable. Lon Chaney's makeup as Fagin is somewhat overwhelming and he has so few close-ups (most of those seem reserved for his young co-star!) that although he looks the part, his performance does not have quite the same impact as later Fagins of the sound era. However, George Siegmann is truly frightening as the vicious Bill Sykes and Gladys Brockwell creates a vivid impression as the terrified Nancy. The film was adapted and directed in workman-like style by Glasgow- born Frank Lloyd. This thrifty but thoroughly respectable version of the Charles Dickens classic was independently produced by Sol Lesser, who went on to make a dozen Tarzan pictures. Like many other silent features, Oliver Twist was preserved not in Hollywood but in Czechoslovakia, where it was finally located in the late 1970s. Blackhawk Films then restored the film with the help of Lesser and Coogan, who reconstructed its missing intertitles. This Oliver is well worth seeing, not only for comparison purposes with the later British classics by David Lean, Carol Reed, and Clive Donner, but also for the wonderfully appealing work of Jackie Coogan, whose brimming eyes would melt the heart of ANY curmudgeon in frozen storage.

1922 77m/B Jackie Coogan, Lon Chaney Sr., Gladys Brockwell, George Siegmann, Esther Ralston, James Marcus, Aggie Herring, Nelson McDowell, Lewis Sargent, Joan Standing, Carl Stockdale, Edouard Trebaol, Lionel Belmore; D: Frank Lloyd; W: Frank Lloyd, Henry Weil; C: Glen MacWilliams, Robert Martin. VHS

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