Oliver!

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Oliver! (1968 movie poster).jpg


Oliver! is a musical adaptation of Oliver Twist, with book, music, and lyrics all by Lionel Bart. It premiered on London's West End in 1960 and had its first Broadway production in 1963. It was made into a movie in 1968 that was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won six, including Awards for Best Picture, and Best Director for Carol Reed.

Tropes used in Oliver! include:
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Nancy sings about her love of Bill Sikes, the best thief who's a cold, bullying monster. He ends up killing her.
  • Affably Evil: Fagin, also Dodger
  • Artful Dodger: Well of course. In fact even more so than in the book.
  • Broken Bird: Nancy. Her plight is summed up in her song, "As Long as He Needs Me" which explains why she stays with Sikes despite his domestic abuse.
  • Compressed Adaptation: A lot of plot convolutions and their related characters, particularly regarding Oliver's tangled family history, get left out.
  • The Creepy Undertaker: Both the stage and film versions, has a whole family like this. They even get a song, "That's Your Funeral."
  • Demoted to Extra: Charley Bates. His role is greatly reduced from the novel. Likely done to put more emphasis on the Artful Dodger.
  • Domestic Abuser: Bill Sikes to Nancy.
  • Excited Show Title!: Oliver!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Fagin seems to dislike Bill Sikes's penchant for violence and his treatment of Nancy. The thieves and pickpockets under his care also react with horror when Sikes beats Nancy in front of them.
  • Gender Flip: In some adaptations of the stage musical, the Artful Dodger is played by a girl.
  • Heel Face Turn:
    • Nancy is forced by Sikes to lead Oliver into a trap so he can be brought back to Fagin. Later she risks her own life to save Oliver from Sikes.
    • Sikes's dog Bullseye
  • Large Ham: Fagin
  • Lighter and Softer
  • Loveable Rogue:
    • Fagin, de-emphasizing his Greedy Jew characterization in the original. Particularly notable is Ron Moody's cheerfully hammy performance in the 1968 film version.
    • Jack Dawkins, aka the Artful Dodger, is also a "kinder, gentler" version; he steals to survive but bears no malice. In fact, the only truly evil gang member is Sykes.
  • The Musical
  • Of Corsets Sexy
  • Say My Name Oliver!
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Sykes: What is it?

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  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Fagin avoids capture and execution in the end.
    • The Artful Dodger avoids arrest and being sent to Australia.
    • Some productions leave Nancy's death ambiguous, implying there's a chance she survived. The film version leaves no doubt that Sikes killed her.
  • Villain Song: "Pick a Pocket or Two" for Fagin, "My Name" for Sykes. Other characters who have villainous traits such as the Bumbles and the Sowerberries have their own in "Oliver" and "That's Your Funeral" respectively.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: The title character.