Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Oliver Twist” (1922)
By: Brian CotnoirI’m not really a huge fan of silent films, but wow did my impression of them change after watching the 1922 silent classic, “Oliver Twist”. The story of “Oliver Twist” was of course based off of the novel by the great Charles Dicken’s and tells the story of a young orphan boy, Oliver Twist. Oliver’s mother died shortly after giving birth to him and he was raised in a workhouse. While, in the workhouse Oliver stirs up some controversey by asking for some more gruel. Oliver, is severely punished for his menial request, but is later saved when he is purchased by an Undertaker by the name of Sowberry, who takes Oliver in as an apprentice. The life of an Undertaker’s apprentice is not the life style that the young Mr. Twist has dreamed of and he runs away in hopes of finding a new life in London. While in London, Oliver is found by a young boy known as “the Artful Dodger”, and he takes Oliver to a good friend of his named Fagin. Fagin immidieatley takes a shine to Oliver as does Oliver to Fagin, until Oliver uncovers that Fagin and the other boys in Fagin’s homes are gang of roaming pick-pockets and thieves. Now, it’s up to our young hero to stop Fagin and the others and uncover who he really is.
Even though it’s a silent film and there have been other films made based on the story of “Oliver Twist”, I still like this one the best. What I like best about this version of the film is the cast. Everyone in the 1922 film looks and acts the part of their character. Actor Lewis Sargent does a wonderful job as the troubled Noah Claypool, Edouard Trebaol is a quite funny as the pick-pocketing scamp the Artful Dodger, and Lon Chaney plays a very frightening Fagin, but the Best Actor hands down in this film is the star of “Oliver Twist”, Jackie Coogan. The films director, Frank Lloyd, couldn’t have picked a better child actor than Jackie Coogan to play the young, kind-hearted orphan, Oliver Twist. Throughout the film Coogan is chased, beat, used, and tossed around like a rag doll; all this adds up to comedic and cinematic gold. It’s actually quite a shame that when people start listing the greatest child actors of all-time that Coogan is often over looked to other child actors, like Macauly Culkin, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, and Dakota Fanning. Jackie Coogan is one of the most underrated and underappreciated actors in Hollywood history and I think every child start owes Jackie Coogan a lot of gratitude for setting the bar and the standard of what it really means and takes to be a child star. So if you are a serious fan of films, then you should check out the Silent movie classic “Oliver Twist”.