Charles Dickens - on the Big Screen and on TV
Quick Facts: One of the greatest and most widely read writers in all of English literature, Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England, February 7, 1812.
He married Catherine Hogarth in 1836. They had 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls.
His first novel,The Pickwick Papers, was published in 1837.
The phrase "What the Dickens?" was in use long before Charles Dickens was born, the first recorded usage was in the William Shakespeare play "The Merry Wives of Windsor".
David Copperfield was Dickens favourite of his novels, it was also his most autobiographical.
Dickens has written 17 novels and over a hundred short stories
Great Expectations is considered his greatest work.
Dickens was fascinated by the paranormal and was a member of the Ghost Club.
His biggest selling novel is A Tale of Two Cities, selling over 200 million copies since it was published in 1859
Charles Dickens died on June 8th, 1870 after suffering a stroke. He was working on the novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which remained unfinished.
He is buried at Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
This hub looks at various theatrical and TV movie adaptations of Dickens novels.
David Copperfield (1935) Directed by George Cukor. 130mins.
W. C. Fields - Mr. Micawber
Lionel Barrymore - Dan Peggotty
Freddie Bartholomew - David Copperfield
Maureen O'Sullivan - Dora
Basil Rathbone - Edward Murdstone
Also starring Edna May Oliver, Elsa Lanchester, Lewis Stone, Roland Young and Frank Lawton as David Copperfield as a man.
The full title of Charles Dickens novel was "The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observation of David Copperfield the Younger", first published in 1850.
Charles Laughton was originally cast as Mr. Micawber, but left the film after 2 days.
Nominated for 3 Oscars - Best Film, Best Editing and Best Assistant Director (Joseph M. Newman).
IMDB rating 7.5
Mr. Micawber: Boy, as I have frequently had occasion to observe, "When the stomach is empty, the spirits are low."
Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) Directed by Stuart Walker. 87mins.
Claude Rains - John Jasper
David Manners - Edwin Drood
Heather Angel - Rosa Bud
Also starring Valerie Hobson, E.E. Clive and Francis L. Sullivan.
Charles Dickens died before completing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, no one knew how it ended. The screenwriters had to work out a suitable finish for the story.
Boris Karloff was considered for the role of John Jasper.
IMDB rating 6.5
John Jasper: "How beautiful you are! You are more beautiful in anger than in repose. I don't ask you for your love; give me yourself and your hatred; give me yourself and that pretty rage; give me yourself and that enchanting scorn; it will be enough for me."
A Tale of Two Cities (1935) Directed by Jack Conway. 128mins.
Ronald Colman - Sydney Carton
Also starring Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver, Reginald Owen, Basil Rathbone and H.B. Warner.
Based on Dickens' historical novel, first published in 1859. The two cities in the title are London and Paris.
One of the few films in which Ronald Colman had to shave off his trademark mustache.
Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Film Editing.
IMDB rating 7.7
Sydney Carton: It's a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It's a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.
Great Expectations (1946) Directed by David Lean. 118mins.
John Mills - Pip
Anthony Wager - Young Pip
Valerie Hobson - Estella
Jean Simmons - Young Estella
Martita Hunt - Miss Havisham
Finlay Currie - Magwitch
Bernard Miles - Joe Gargery
Francis L. Sullivan - Mr. Jaggers
Alec Guinness - Herbert Pocket
"Great Expectations" was first published in 1861.
David Lean's classic is considered by many to be the finest film adaptation of a Dickens novel ever made.
Ranked #5 on the British Film Institutes 100 Greatest British Films list.
Nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, winning 2 - Best Cinematography and Best Art Director.
IMDB rating 8.0
Miss Havisham: Come nearer. Let me look at you. Come close. Look at me. You aren't afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since before you were born?
Nicholas Nickleby (1947) Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. 108mins.
Sir Cedric Hardwicke - Ralph Nickleby
Stanley Holloway - Vincent Crummles
Derek Bond - Nicholas Nickleby
Also starring Mary Merrall, Sally Ann Howes, Aubrey Woods and Bernard Miles.
The novel was originally titled "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" and first published in 1839.
"For a director who dabbled in the avant-garde, Cavalcanti makes surprisingly little of the surreal possibilities of this convoluted Dickensian nightmare." Time Out
Mrs. Nickleby: We feel he died of a broken heart.
Ralph Nickleby: Pooh, there's no such thing.
Nicholas: [resentfully] Indeed, if you have no heart to break.
IMDB rating 6.8
Oliver Twist (1948) Directed by David Lean. 116mins.
Alec Guinness - Fagin
Robert Newton - Bill Sikes
Kay Walsh - Nancy
John Howard Davies - Oliver Twist
Also starring Henry Stephenson, Francis L. Sullivan, Ralph Truman and Anthony Newley as the Artful Dodger.
David Lean's second great Charles Dickens adaptation.
"Oliver Twist" was first published in 1838 and is, along with "A Christmas Carol", the most popular and most well known of the writers stories.
Alec Guinness' hook nose make-up and portrayal of Fagin was deemed anti-semitic and the film was banned in Israel, it's US release was delayed for a few years and was only passed by the censors after cuts were made to the film, toning down Guinness character.
And if that wasn't enough the film was banned in Egypt because Fagin was portrayed sympathetically!
#46 on the British Film Institute's list of Top 100 British Films.
BAFTA Nomination for Best British Film.
IMDB rating 7.8
Bill Sikes: Fair or not fair, give it 'ere you avaricious old skeleton.
Scrooge (1951) US Title: A Christmas Carol. Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst. 86mins.
Alastair Sim - Ebenezer Scrooge
Also starring Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley, George Cole and Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley.
Based on Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol", first published in December 1843.
For many this is still the best movie adaptation of Dicken's Christmas classic.
Alastair Sim and Michael Hordern reprised their roles, in voice only, for an Oscar-winning animated TV special of A Christmas Carol in 1971.
IMDB rating 8.0
Ebenezer: Who and what are you?
Spirit of Christmas Past: I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Ebenezer: Long past?
Spirit of Christmas Past: No, your past.
The Pickwick Papers (1952) Directed by Noel Langley. 109mins.
James Hayter - Samuel Pickwick
James Donald - Nathaniel Winkle
Also starring Nigel Patrick, Joyce Grenfell, Hermione Gingold, Hermione Baddeley and Donald Wolfit.
Dicken's novel was originally titled "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club" and was first published in 1837.
Oscar Nomination for Best Costume Design.
IMDB rating 6.7
Leo Hunter: She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up,and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces herself, sir. You may have met with her "Ode to an Expiring Frog," sir.'
A Tale of Two Cities (1958) Directed by Ralph Thomas. 117mins.
Dirk Bogarde - Sydney Carton
Dorothy Tutin - Lucie Manette
Cecil Parker - Jarvis Lorry
Also starring Stephen Murray, Athene Seyler, Paul Guers, Ian Bannen, Christopher Lee and Donald Pleasence.
Filmed at Pinewood Studios.
Tagline - An immortal story... A brilliant cast... An unforgettable film of the French Revolution
IMDB rating 7.0
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Oliver! (1968) Directed by Carol Reed. 153mins.
Ron Moody - Fagin
Shani Wallis - Nancy
Oliver Reed - Bill Sikes
Harry Secombe - Mr. Bumble
Mark Lester - Oliver Twist
Jack Wild - The Artful Dodger
Based on the British stage musical which first opened in London's West End in 1960 and on Broadway in 1962.
Peter Sellers was considered for the role of Fagin.
Nominated for 12 Oscars including Best Actor (Ron Moody) and Best Supporting Actor (Jack Wild), winning 6 including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Art Direction.
Nominated for 5 Golden Globe Awards winning 2 - Best Film Musical / Comedy and Best Actor Musical / Comedy (Ron Moody).
Cost $10m - Box Office $77.4m
IMDB rating 7.4
Oliver Twist: Please sir, I want some more.
Mr. Bumble: What?
Oliver Twist: Please sir, I want some... more?
Mr. Bumble: [shocked] MOOOOORE?
Scrooge (1970) Directed by Ronald Neame. 120mins.
Albert Finney - Ebenezer Scrooge
Alec Guinness - Marley's ghost
Edith Evans - Ghost of Christmas Past
Kenneth More - Ghost of Christmas Present
Also starring David Collings, Michael Medwin, Gordon Jackson, Kay Walsh and Laurence Naismith.
Musical based on Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol'.
Unlike Oliver! 'Scrooge' was not based on a stage musical but it was turned into one in 1992, starring Anthony Newley as Scrooge.
Rex Harrison was offered the lead role but had to turn it down.
Nominated for 4 Oscars - Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Song Score and Best Song.
Nominated for 5 Golden Globe Awards including Best Film Musical / Comedy, winning 1 - Best Actor Musical / Comedy (Albert Finney)
IMDB rating 7.2
The Ghost of Jacob Marley: You will be visited by three ghosts.
Ebenezer Scrooge: I... I think I'd rather not.
Great Expectations (1974) Directed by Joseph Hardy. 100mins (124mins).
Michael York - Pip
Sarah Miles - Estella
James Mason - Magwitch
Margaret Leighton - Miss Havisham
Also starring Robert Morley, Anthony Quayle and Joss Ackland.
Made for TV adaptation premiering on NBC, released theatrically in Europe.
Originally intended to be a musical but all the song sequences were removed.
IMDB rating 6.0
Pip: I never had one hour's happiness in her society, and yet my mind all round the four-and-twenty hours was harping on the happiness of having her with me unto death.
Oliver Twist (1982) Directed by Clive Donner. 103mins.
George C. Scott - Fagin
Tim Curry - Bill Sikes
Cherie Lunghi - Nancy
Also starring Michael Hordern, Timothy West, Eileen Atkins and Richard Charles as Oliver Twist.
TV Movie premiering on CBS, released theatrically outside North America.
Emmy nomination for Best Make-Up.
IMDB rating 7.1
Little Dorrit (1988) Directed by Christine Edzard. 357mins.
Derek Jacobi - Arthur Clennam
Joan Greenwood - Mrs. Clennam
Alec Guinness - William Dorrit
Also starring Max Wall, Patricia Hayes, Cyril Cusack and Sarah Pickering as Little Dorrit.
Dickens novel was first published in 1857.
The movie adaptation was 6 hours long! It was released as two 3 hour movies, part 1 was subtitled "Nobody's Fault" and part 2 "Little Dorrit's Story".
Nominated for 2 Oscars - Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness).
Golden Globe Nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness).
IMDB rating 7.1
Scrooged (1988) Directed by Richard Donner. 101mins.
Bill Murray - Frank Cross
Also starring Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alfre Woodard, David Johansen, Carol Kane and Robert Mitchum.
Comedy fantasy loosely based on 'A Christmas Carol'.
Director Richard Donner has a cameo near the end of the film.
Tagline - Bill Murray is back among the ghosts, only this time, it's 3 against 1.
Oscar Nomination for Best Make-Up.
Nominated for 3 Saturn Awards - Best Fantasy Film, Best Actor (Bill Murray) and Best Special Effects.
Cost $32m - Box Office $60.3m (US)
IMDB rating 6.9
Frank Cross: I get it. You're here to show me my past, and I'm supposed to get all dully-eyed and mushy. Well, forget it, pal, you got the wrong guy!
Ghost of Christmas Past: That's exactly what Attila the Hun said. But when he saw his mother... Niagara Falls!
Oliver Twist (1997) Directed by Tony Bill. 91mins.
Richard Dreyfuss - Fagin
Elijah Wood - The Artful Dodger
David O'Hara - Bill Sikes
Alex Trench - Oliver Twist
Antoine Byrne - Nancy
Made for TV adaptation.
Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Make-Up.
IMDB rating 6.1
Great Expectations (1998) Directed by Alfonso Cuaron. 111mins.
Ethan Hawke - Finnegan Bell
Gwyneth Paltrow - Estella Havisham
Hank Azaria - Walter Plane
Chris Cooper - Joe Gargery
Anne Bancroft - Ms. Dinsmoor
Robert De Niro - Arthur Lustig
Loosely adapted from Dickens novel and set in the 1990s.
An interesting take on the old story with good visuals, the film received mixed reviews and its worldwide box office gross was $55.5m.
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro)
IMDB rating 6.7
Finn: What's it like not to feel anything?
Estella: Let's say there was a little girl, and from the time she could understand, she was taught to fear... let's say she was taught to fear daylight. She was taught that it was her enemy, that it would hurt her. And then one sunny day, you ask her to go outside and play and she won't. You can't be angry at her can you?
Finn: I knew that little girl and I saw the light in her eyes, and no matter what you say or do, that's still what I see.
Estella: We are who we are. People don't change.
A Christmas Carol (1999) Directed by David Hugh Jones. 95mins.
Patrick Stewart - Ebenezer Scrooge
Richard E. Grant - Bob Cratchit
Joel Grey - Ghost of Christmas Past
Also starring Ian McNeice, Saskia Reeves, Bernard Lloyd and Dominic West.
Considered by some to be the most faithful adaptation of the novel with a memorable performance as Scrooge by Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
The full title of Dickens novel is "A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas".
Tagline - In Just One Night, He Has Seen His Past, His Present, And His Future... And They've All Come Back To Haunt Him.
SAG Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Patrick Stewart).
IMDB rating 7.2
David Copperfield (1999) Directed by Simon Curtis. 185mins.
Daniel Radcliffe - David Copperfield (Young)
Ciarán McMenamin - David Copperfield (Adult)
Maggie Smith - Betsey Trotwood
Bob Hoskins - Mr. Micawber
Ian McKellen - Mr. Creakle
Also starring Trevor Eve, Alun Armstrong, Emilia Fox, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Imelda Staunton, Dawn French, Zoe Wanamaker and Ian McNeice.
A two-part BBC adaptation.
Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Zoe Wanamaker and Dawn French would join Daniel Radcliffe in the Harry Potter movies.
British Academy TV Awards nomination for Best Actress (Maggie Smith), Best Editing and Best Photography.
Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Maggie Smith).
IMDB rating 7.6
Nicholas Nickleby (2002) Directed by Douglas McGrath. 132mins.
Charlie Hunnam - Nicholas Nickleby
Nathan Lane - Vincent Crummles
Jim Broadbent - Wackford Squeers
Christopher Plummer - Ralph Nickleby
Also starring Jamie Bell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Cumming, Timothy Spall and Tom Courtenay.
"Nicholas Nickleby is jolly and exciting and brimming with life, and wonderfully well-acted." Roger Ebert.
Tagline - Every family needs a hero.
Golden Globe Nomination for Best Film Comedy or Musical.
Cost $10m - Box Office $3.6m
IMDB rating 7.2
Oliver Twist (2005) Directed by Roman Polanski. 130mins.
Ben Kingsley as Fagin
Jamie Foreman as Bill Sikes
Barney Clark as Oliver Twist
Harry Eden as The Artful Dodger
Leanne Rowe as Nancy
Also starring Edward Hardwicke, Mark Strong, Alun Armstrong and Ian McNiece.
The umpteenth version of Dickens Oliver Twist, which was a lot more successful in Europe than it was in America.
Roman Polanski wanted to direct a film his children would enjoy watching and his wife suggested Oliver Twist.
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Film at the European Film Awards.
Cost $60m - Box Office $42.5m
IMDB rating 6.9
Fagin: A terrible thing hangin', Oliver. The dawn, the noose, the gallows, the drop! You don't even have to be guilty, they'll hang you for anything these days, that's because they're so very fond of hangin'!
Bleak House (2005) Directed by Justin Chadwick & Susanna White. 510mins.
Anna Maxwell Martin - Esther Summerson
Denis Lawson - John Jarndyce
Carey Mulligan - Ada Clare
Gillian Anderson - Lady Dedlock
Also starring Charles Dance, Patrick Kennedy, Timothy West, Pauline Collins and Nathaniel Parker.
Critically acclaimed BBC Mini-Series based on Charles Dickens novel first published in 1853.
Episodes - 1 x 60min followed by 14 x 30mins
Nominated for 13 BAFTA TV Awards winning 5 - Best Drama Serial, Best Actress (Anna Maxwell Martin), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Editing.
Nominated for 10 Emmy Awards winning 2 - Outstanding Cinematography and Outstanding Make-Up.
Nominated for 2 Golden Globe Awards - Best Mini-Series and Best Actress in a Mini-Series (Gillian Anderson).
IMDB rating 8.6
A Christmas Carol (2009) Directed by Robert Zemeckis. 96mins.
Jim Carrey - Ebenezer Scrooge (voice)
Also starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Robin Wright Penn, Cary Elwes and Bob Hoskins.
CG Animation using state of the art motion capture.
A Christmas Carol is the third CG movie directed by Robert Zemeckis, the previous two were The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007).
Saturn Award Nomination for Best Animated Film.
Cost $175m - Box Office $325.2m
IMDB rating 6.8
Nephew Harry: A merry Christmas, Uncle Ebenezer! God save you.
Ebenezer: God save me from Christmas. It's another humbug.
Nephew Harry: Christmas a humbug? Come, now. I'm sure you don't mean that.
Ebenezer: And I'm sure that I do mean that. Merry Christmas, indeed. What reason have you got to be merry? You're poor enough.
Nephew Harry: What reason have you got to be miserable? You're rich enough.
Ebenezer: There is no such thing as rich enough, only poor enough.
Great Expectations (2012) Directed by Mike Newell. 128mins.
Jeremy Irvine - Pip
Holliday Grainger - Estella
Helena Bonham Carter - Miss Havisham
Ralph Fiennes - Magwitch
Robbie Coltrane - Mr. Jaggers
Jason Flemyng - Joe Gargery
Ewen Bremner - Wemmick
The seventh and latest movie adaptation of Chales Dickens classic novel.
Alex Pettyfer, Rooney Mara and Meryl Streep turned down the roles of Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham.
"Newell’s Great Expectations is not the version to top all cinematic versions, not coming close to the atmospheric drama of David Lean’s 1946 outing. However, Dickens fans will be appeased by the splendid cast at their disposal and will find the remainder an admirable watch of highbrow production values." Screen One
IMDB rating 6.2