Oliver Twist (1922 film)
When this tale was first published, I fully expected it would be objected to on high moral grounds. It seems a very coarse and shocking circumstance that among the characters in my story, I had chosen from the filthiest, most criminal, and degraded of London's population.
The character of Sikes is a thief, Fagin a receiver of stolen goods, the boys are pick-pockets, and Nancy is a prostitute. Yet I saw no reason, when I wrote the book, why the dregs of life, so long as their speech did not offend the ear, should not serve the purpose of a moral.
In this spirit, I wished to show in little Oliver the principle of Good surviving through every adverse circumstance and triumphing at last among what companions I could try him best.
Among the public buildings in a certain English town there was a workhouse....
Here was born the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the beginning of this tale.
"It's all over, Mrs. Thingummy! I'm told she was found lying on the street and nobody knows where she came from nor her name."
Unwanted, with no careful grandmother, no anxious aunts, no experienced nurses, the infant manages to survive.
But he was to be badged and ticketed, and fall into his place at once---an orphan of the workhouse---to be despised by all and pitied by none.
Nine years later, Oliver is a workhouse orphan.
"Now don't be offended Mr. Bumble, but will you have just a little drop of the gin which I keep for medicinal purposes?"
The fate of poor orphans under England's gentle system of charity...
Here they are "educated" and learn a "useful" trade.
Mr. Bumble named all foundlings born in the workhouse in alphabetical order, and so, after Jonathan Swubble had come Oliver Twist!
"If I don't get more gruel for supper..."
"...I'm afraid I might eat one of you."
"One of us must ask for more porridge. We'll draw lots to see who."
"Delicious, nutritious food!"
"There's one left. Who didn't draw his lot?"
The workhouse authorities meet to agree that seven pence, ha'penny-worth per day is a good round diet for a child.
"Please sir, I want some more."
"Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more gruel."
"He asked for more! After he had eaten the generous supperby the dietary!"
"I am convinced that this boy will come to be hung!"
Meanwhile Oliver was ordered into instant confinement for the impious and profane offense of asking for more.
Poor hungry Oliver! He dreams of food, glorious food.
Allured by the reward which the board now offers to be rid of so dangerous a character, Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker, takes Oliver as an apprentice.
"He is rather small. There's no denying it, but he'll grow! He'll grow!"
"And his board needn't be expensive, for he hasn't been overfed since he was born!"
Oliver, now an undertaker's apprentice, has attended his first funeral and has formed an unfavorable opinion of his master's business.
The new apprentice meets his workmate Noah Claypool, who delights in tormenting the new boy.
A gloomy bedroom.
As Oliver cowers, uncertain of his fate among the coffins, there are merrier goings-on.
"Such wonderful things and a rent free house. What an opportunity for a joining of hearts and housekeepings!"
A month's trial over, Oliver is formally apprenticed.
"Wha'd yer mother die of, work'us?"
"Of a broken heart, some of our old nurses at the orphanage told me!"
"Yer mother was a regular right-down bad 'un, it's a great deal better that she died when she did, or else she'd a probably been hung."
"So, you ungrateful wretch. Is this the way you repay my kindness?"
"You go packing back to the workhouse tomorrow!"
Back at the workhouse, old Mrs. Thingummy, the only one who remembers the death of Oliver's mother, is herself dying.
"In this very bed, a woman gave birth to a boy. He was called Oliver."
"I stole this locket. The only thing she had. Gold it is."
Mrs. Corney realizes that the gold locket may have belonged to a wealthy lady.
He hopes to find a hiding place where nobody, not even Mr. Bumble, could ever find him.
The passing stranger tempts Oliver to see how far this idle young drudge can run for a ha'penny.
The acquisitive Bumble, now aware of Oliver's possible heritage, goes to visit one Monks, who had inquired after him.
"I have proof about Oliver, but, alas, he has run away."
"Noweven more important that I find him."
After begging food and water for seven days, Oliver finally sights London.
"Hullo, my Covey. What's the row?"
"I heard the boys once talk about London."
"Yes, keep all matters about the boy quiet. When I'm in London, I may happen across him."
"Do you live in London?"
"Yes, when I'm home. I suppose you want some place to sleep tonight and eat... Don't fret your eyelids on that score."
"I know a respectable old gentleman as lives there, wot'll give you lodgings for nothink."
"Let's go. Up with you!"
Field Lane in London, where even the air is polluted. Home of the Artful Dodger and his "friends."
Fagin, a crafty, old, shrivelled scoundrel, who enriches himself by teaching outcast boys how to steal.
"Be respectful. He'll treat you fine if yer shows respect."
"Almost got caught that time. I thinks I got away orl right."
And now we meet Bill Sikes, one of Fagin's henchmen. He is to play an important part in Oliver's life.
"I have good business to tell you about--the Chertsey job. You asked for a little boy, I've got him."
"He's small and a smart one. He's just the one to do it."
Oliver watches as the merry old gentleman and the boys play their curious "game."
"Please sir, may I play too?"
Monks, through friends, has traced "a new boy" to Fagin!
"Yes, a little beggar, now one of my dears. Shall we talk privately?"
"I want you to keep that boy under wraps."
"Whatever you say, Monks. I'd never go against you."
"Hullo, Betsy; Hullo, Nancy. We have a new boy."
The next day the boys practice their trade.
A "prime plant."
"Yes, that's the little thief, I'm afraid."
"Nancy, my dear, go to the police."
"Convince them Oliver is your poor, sweet, innocent little brother."
"I am not sure this boy actually took my purse. I would rather not press the charges."
"If he is convicted by the evidence, he'll get three months of hard labor."
"I keep the bookstall, sir. I saw the prisoner and two other boys loitering. The robbery was committed by the two other boys. This boy did nothing. He was amazed and stupified by it."
"You're a clever girl, Nancy. An honor to your sex. You must get the boy freed."
"I shall take responsibility for the boy, your honor."
Mr. Brownlow saw Oliver comfortably deposited in his own home.
"I was too late. Oliver has been taken by a rich old gentleman."
"About our plan, Bill. The little boy, he's been taken. All we need do is recover him."
"I thought at first it was only a game I was playing."
"My dear friend, Brownlow, I only know of two sorts of boys, good and bad."
"I have no doubt that Oliver is good and decent."
"We shall test this boy to prove the injustice of your suspicions."
"Oliver, take these books back to the book stall. Pay the four pound ten I owe. This is a five pound note."
"Come back promptly with ten shillings change."
"He's my little brother who ran away from our parents."
Late that evening Oliver had not returned...
"I do suppose you're right, Grimwig. I should have listened to you in the beginning."
Once again Oliver is firmly entrenched in Fagin's custody.
"Wake up! Look sharp! We got work to do!"
"The boy, Oliver, his education in thievery is to continue."
"It's a matter of his inheritance. Good if he's discredited; better if he never appears!"
"If you speak one word, except when I speak to you, I'll put a bullet through your head."
Oliver boldly tries to thwart the robbery.
"One of the thieves, Miss. Wounded, Miss."
"Don't worry, Monks. If Oliver gets caught, he'll be in jail for a long time."
"The job failed! Oliver's fault! Bill shot him!"
Noah Claypool and Charlotte, having stolen some coin from the till of their former master, arrive in London.
"Not one of them did right by me - 'till Mr. Brownlow and kindly Mrs. Bedwin took care of me."
"Oliver is telling them everything about us."
"That little wretch may cost us the rest of our lives behind bars."
"I'll take care of Oliver!"
"No you won't, Bill!"
"She needs watching, that one. We can't trust anybody, especially a female."
"I heard there's a new boy here."
"No more robbin' undertaker's tills for me. I'm after bigger stuff."
"Fagin is the name and I'm looking for a smart boy like you, interested in profits. A young woman I know needs following. Tell me where she goes, who she sees and what she says, - for cash!"
Oliver has related his adventures to Mr. Brownlow.
"I told you he would come back!"
"Well, maybe so, but you never did get your change or your books!"
It was a happy time for Oliver.
Nancy warns Rose of Oliver's danger.
"We must find out who Monks really is. I must tell Mr. Brownlow. Where can we find you?"
"I will walk every night on London Bridge."
The rendezvous. Rose and Mr. Brownlow seek out Nancy.
"If you promise that you will never tell on me, I can tell you where you may find Monks."
"He can be found at Fagin's in Field's Lane."
"If Monks cannot be taken, we must get to Fagin. I promise you that you need not be involved."
"I have something to tell you, Bill, that will surprise and horrify you."
"Well, Bill, Noah has followed Nancy. She has betrayed us!"
"She described you all and told everything."
"You won't be too violent, will you Bill?"
Anguished, for she has ruined the only man she loves.
Noah, frightened by Nancy's murder, has confessed to the police. The curious neighbors gather at Fagin's.
"That's Noah Claypool. He's leading the police."
Suddenly, a vision of Nancy's eyes.
"Come with me Monks, or I shall prefer charges publicly."
"Methinks, this is no place for the likes of us!"
Monks has agreed to tell the circumstances of Oliver's birth and heritage.
"My real name is Edward Leeford. Before she died, my mother told me of a letter she received from my divorced father, Edwin Leeford, who had run off with another woman."
"My father expected to die before the birth of the child to whom he planned to leave his fortune. That would have disinherited me. When Mr. Bumble brought me the locket, I was convinced it was my father's."
"If he is my brother, please don't send him to jail."
Oliver bows in thanks to the man who has apprised him of his true name-Oliver Leeford.