Friday, March 7, 2014

Who Will Buy?

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.
Oliver's (Mark Lester) girlishly high voice was dubbed in by Kathe Green, a fact which was not made public for twenty years. Mark couldn't sing to save his life, so it seems. 

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." 


FrumGeek said...

Fagin was unsurprisingly meant to be hated in the book. I think you might enjoy checking out Will Eisner's Fagin the Jew, which goes through Fagin's life, seeing everything from his point of view.

Princess Lea said...

Mmm! Book recommendation! Thanks!

Daniel Saunders said...

I don't read Dickens for the plots (which are slight and coincidence-driven) but for his powerful and ironic authorial voice. Still it took me a long time to 'get' him and I have to be in the right mood.

Princess Lea said...

The classics just involve so much concentration in order to read . . .

Daniel Saunders said...

According to the effort is the reward!

Princess Lea said...

I like historical fiction. Takes place in the past, without the Old English.