Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Literary Toons: Oliver & The Artful Dodger (1972)

Here's a 2-part installment of ABC's Saturday Superstar Movie, which, admittedly, I've wanted to see for a long time.

"Oliver & The Artful Dodger" is a loose adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. While Dickens had cast Jack Dawkins, alias the Artful Dodger (Michael Bell, in his first job for Hanna-Barbera) as a pickpocket with a heart of gold, this version sees Dodger and his friends in a more benevolent light, rescuing a little girl from the workhouse.

I must confess I haven't seen this at all, and it was only released on VHS in the 80's, but has not yet merited a DVD release, more than 40 years after its premiere. All I know about the story is a song from its most famous adaptation, the musical, "Oliver!". "Consider Yourself" was played in music class when I was in 6th grade.

Anyway, grab some popcorn, a smoothie, and enjoy the show:

No rating.


magicdog said...

I never get tired of the Oliver Twist adaptations. Like "A Christmas Carol", people may have their favorite performers of such classic characters, but the stories can't be botched too badly.

Filmation did a version of Oliver Twist also - back in the 80s. Best of all, the Artful Dodger was voiced by Davy Jones, who originated the role on Broadway.

hobbyfan said...

When, exactly, did Filmation do their version? Have to find that one.

magicdog said...

I did a bit of digging - it seems it was made in 1974 as a theatrical film, but shortened to an hour and broadcast on TV in 1981.

I remember seeing that version on cable a few times in the 80s.

hobbyfan said...

Definitely have to look that one up sometime.

Jennifer Schillig said...

I saw some of the Filmation version when they ran it on HBO. I was a little floored by the fact it was a musical ("but there already HAS been a musical based on Oliver Twist!")

Other interesting points: this particular version tried to soften the whole illegitimacy/adultery issue with Oliver's dad. Monks explained that his (and Oliver's) father had divorced his mother, their marriage always having been loveless. Monks' mother, not willing to give up her rights as a rich man's wife, used her influence to put the divorce aside. The father married again, but only found out that the second marriage wasn't legal when Oliver's mother was pregnant. He died and she ran off in shame, to end up dying in childbirth at the workhouse.

So I guess Filmation thought that it was more kid-friendly to have Oliver only be SORT OF illegitimate and his father only SORT OF committing adultery.

I also got a kick out of recognizing bits of Filmation stock music (especially the "suspenseful" bit they used to play to death in Star Trek).

Plus, it was a little jarring to have Saturday-morning cartoon slapstick punctuating such a grim story (the running gag of Bullseye the dog getting kicked around and the actual playing of Fagin's death sentencing for laughs!)

Still, not at all a bad intro for kids, although I'd still rather show them Oliver! the musical.

hobbyfan said...

How long ago did it run on HBO, Jennifer? I wouldn't mind seeing it on DVD or even VHS (I have a dual player).

Jennifer Schillig said... would have had to have been in the mid-eighties or so. There was a period where HBO was running quite a few Dickens-themed cartoons, mainly from Australia's Burbank Studios, which was how (as a teenager) I got to know The Old Curiosity Shop.

Jennifer Schillig said...

Oh, and another interesting part about that one? Davy Jones (yes, the Monkee) did the voice of the Artful Dodger. He'd actually been Dodger in the London production of Oliver! in the sixties, and performed a song from the show on Ed Sullivan the night the Beatles were on.