Even though she watched it long ago, my grandmother still remembers the scene when Oliver arrives in London, having stowed away in a produce cart; his first sight of the city is a careful peek from behind a cabbage leaf.
I really can't stand Dickens. Besides for the misery aspect (which, for me, is sufficient reason to eschew his works), Charles has a penchant for impossibly convenient outcomes. Take Bleak House: A young woman bumps into a man on the street, and he is overdoes his apology. Unbeknownst to either of them, he is her long-lost father. Eh.
While Oliver! possesses similar soap-opera conveniences, the music certainly makes up for it.
To this day, I am not sure a villain could be played the way Oliver Reed can. That's because he was pretty terrifying in real life, which certainly granted his roles authenticity. He died during the filming of Gladiator after an all night drinking binge, complete with sailor wrestling.You think he would have learned after a bar fight in the '60s had left his face scarred. Woo.
The most beautiful scene/song undoubtedly is "Who Will Buy?," but it is unavailable in the film form on YouTube, and I'd prefer not to muddy the waters with stage versions.
Fagin (Ron Moody) and Dodger (Jack Wild), while thieves, are so charming that one practically forgives them anything.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Fagin is the source for my fingerless-glove obsession. Watching his performance one can detect the distinct stereotypical Jewish flourishes—the trill of the clarinet, the flamboyant hand gestures, the last "Hey!" sounds very Tevye-ish. In the book he was oft called, simply, "the Jew." Despite his protestations to the contrary, Dickens was, like the rest of London, an anti-Semite.
Then there is the quintessential love song, "I'd Do Anything."