The Gift Set on DVD and CD
Sony Pictures' new DVD release of Oliver! may be a bit of
a rehash, but it's also a nifty way to get your Oliver! fix on
both video and audio.
That's because the new Oliver! gift set includes two discs in
two packages: the original DVD of the 1968 Oscar-winning film,
and a compact disc of the movie soundtrack. It's a pretty neat
package, though we'd have liked to see both video and audio discs
being restored and remastered to bring them up to snuff technologically
Not that they suck, but they could be better.
The movie won six 1968 Academy Awards, including Best Picture,
and it deserved them all. It's a bouncy and likable story "freely adapted" from
Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist," and features wonderful
performances, sets, production numbers, and more.
The DVD has been mixed into Dolby Surround
and it looks and sounds good, but having reviewed such remasterings
as Gone with the Wind, we've come to expect more in late 2005.
The color is great, but the picture's grainy in places and a tad
thin looking. It's also a tad thin sounding, though still enjoyable.
The CD of the soundtrack appears to have been taken right from
the movie, rather than being performed in a recording studio like
many soundtrack records are traditionally. So while the performances
are just like you see in the film, the audio quality is, unfortunately,
on the thin side just like you hear with the film.
But it's a nice way to take along Oliver!'s memorable tunes when
you aren't in the home theater.
Other than the unrestored quality of the sound, the only real
problem with the audio is the dubbed singing voice of Oliver himself
(Mark Lester), which
musical director's daughter. It's a case of nepotism that should
have been condemned, because it sticks out like a sore thumb
and even threatens to spoil a marvelous production number like "Who
Will Buy?" We don't know if Lester couldn't sing, but Green's
voice is totally lifeless, so much so it threatens to suck the life
out of the rest of the production - especially on "Where is Love"
and "Who Will Buy."
Fortunately, even Green's voice can't destoy the latter number,
which still manages to shine. The other major production number, "Consider
Yourself;" is also full of energy and beautifully
staged with Onna White's choreography.
Ron Moody is outstanding as Fagin, the lovable felon and dubious
mentor of the band of children. Oliver Reed is appropriately
menacing as bad guy Bill Sikes, Shani Wallace is a very likable
Nancy - and Jack Wild plays The Artful Dodger to the hilt.
The film deserves its place in movie history as one of the great
movie musicals, and even in its unrestored state the DVD does
It's released on the DVD only in widescreen, which suits us
just fine. You even get the exit music.
Alas, Sony has split the movie
onto both sides of the DVD, which would have really rubbed us
wrong way if they hadn't done it at the most logical time: Intermission.
But they mislabelled the disc, so that side A is really side
B and vice versa. Duh!
Extras include a a photo gallery and a short
(but pleasant) feature on the making of the film.
Oliver!, from Sony Home Entertainment
approx 153 minutes, widescreeen (2.35:1), Dolby Surround
starring Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe, Shani Wallis,
Jack Wild, and Mark Lester
Screenplay by Vernon Harris, from the musical by Lionel Bart
Produced by John Woolf, Directed by Carol Reed
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