A sickly pregnant woman runs through the rainy moors to the gates of a workhouse where she delivers her child the dies. Oliver Twist, the name given by the cruel, bulging orphanage overseer, begins a life of mistreatment as he is sent from the workhouse to work for a coffin maker whom he escapes from to make for the streets of London and to be taken in by a band of pickpockets. Following the success of "Great Expectations", David Lean decided to adapt another Dickens' classic, achieving the same dark and wondrous results. "Oliver Twist" is an impeccably directed, beautifully gloomy rendering of the story of the young waif. For me, my introduction to the story came with Carol Reed's wonderful musical "Oliver!", which is much lighter in tone. Lean's version is more dire than I even realized (ashamedly, I haven't read the book), and pretty shocking considering the time it was released. John Howard Davies is ideal as Oliver, bringing all the needed qualities of the beset upon orphan and the adult cast is incredible, led by the inimitable Alec Guinness in a twisted comic performance as gang leader Fagin which drew controversy for resembling Jewish stereotypes. Robert Newton is vicious as the contemptible Bill Sykes, Kay Walsh is incredible as his fiery and magnanimous girlfriend Nancy, and Henry Stephenson is great as the warmhearted Mr. Brownlow. David Lean was a master craftsman of the cinema, crafting gorgeous, incredibly realized masterpieces like this before leaving Britain for Hollywood to direct some of the grandest epics in history. Working big or small, he realized that storytelling was essential, and with "Oliver Twist" he again does literary great Charles Dickens justice.