Oliver Twist has been the basis for several films, the most popular of which is the musical Oliver! (1968). Starring Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, and Shani Wallis, this version won six Academy Awards, including Best Director for Carol Reed and Best Picture. While many of the film’s characters and musical numbers are delightful, its general tone obviously departs from Dickens’s. The film’s characters, except Bill Sikes and possibly Fagin, are entirely too whitewashed, and the squalor and sordidness of underworld London are softened. Many events and characters are omitted, thus changing, and sentimentalizing, the plot considerably. The film excludes Mrs. Mann, Mrs. Corney, the entire Maylie family, Mr. Grimwig, and Monks.
Oliver! was derived from the classic 1948 British film adaptation entitled Oliver Twist, which was directed by David Lean and starred Alec Guinness, Robert Newton, John Howard Davies, and Kay Walsh. Other film versions include a weak 1933 release and a passable 1982 television movie strengthened by George C. Scott’s performance as Fagin.