Peter William Evans
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The last hurrah
in Carol Reed
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The film that gave a boost to Reed's flagging reputation was Oliver!, by any standards an impressive musical, and true epilogue to a long and distinguished, though variable, career. As ever, a film musical that owes its origins to a stage version, especially one that was a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic, runs the risk of unfavourable comparison with other productions. Like the best musicals, Oliver! gives its audiences intense pleasures through narrative, character, star performers, as well as through its array of formal effects: music, dance, colour, décor, camera movement and so on. In this film brutality and kindness are constant companions. Oliver! is a film about not only the survival instincts of outsider figures like Fagin and the Dodger, skipping away into the sunset like Chaplin and the little boy in The Kid, but also the triumph of innocence.

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