Sweetened Dickens, a contradiction in kind. If the works of Charles Dickens have their moments of sentiment, they're well-earned, thanks to the savagry and deprivation abundant in the master storyteller's plots. Here, Carol Reed tries to balance the story elements by rendering the story as
a fable; the moments of tenderness are intellectualized. Given that Oliver!
could easily get that perfunctory cuteness that packs the matinees with old ladies, it's a wise move. But being English himself and probably knowing Dickens better than we do, why didn't Carol Reed restore the Dickensian
flavor that could give OLIVER! some bite? OLIVER! is the familiar story of you...