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My review of Oliver!

May 6, 2014
I just finished watching the 1968 Best Picture Oscar winner, Oliver! That exclamation point is not mine. It was added by the producers. I can’t say it with an exclamation point, because it made me sleepy. I found it hard to stay awake during this movie. I watched the first hour and a half last night, and the final hour tonight, and on both nights I had trouble keeping my eyes open. Okay. Anyway…I’m not sure why this movie won Best Picture. I felt the story was shortchanged by the multiple song and dance breaks. I’m not anti-musical, but this movie just seemed to come to a grinding halt once someone broke into song. Most of the musical numbers are energetic, but the story again, suffers. And some of the musical numbers are the type that involve hundreds of people, passersby who otherwise would be minding their own business, if not for being interrupted by a singing street urchin backed by a symphony orchestra. It’s all quite silly, really. The acting was all fine, if not broad, but it is a musical after all. I also don’t care for the aesthetic of dirt, grime, and coal dust as a setting for a musical. I don’t care for the juxtaposition of the realistic setting and the unrealistic manner of singing and dancing throughout. Mary Poppins had coal dust, but it also had dancing cartoon penguins and magical, flying nannies. Mary Poppins’ world was not realistic in any way. Oliver Twist’s world was realistic, and all too real, and much better served in David Lean’s beautiful, yet bleak, 1948 black and white production. There were several better movies that came out in 1968: The Thomas Crown Affair, The Odd Couple, The Boston Strangler, Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, Romeo and Juliet, Bullitt, and my personal favorite from that year, Planet of the Apes. I can’t really recommend Oliver! Again, exclamatory emphasis not mine. Next up, Russian Roulette in Vietnam has never been as fun as it is in The Deer Hunter, the Best Picture winner from 1978.

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