Hard Times: Dickens on Screen – part 1

Films that celebrate the genius of Charles Dickens, a true giant of English literature.

Dickens’ work has proven popular with filmmakers since the earliest years of cinema; his social conscience is ever more pertinent today. The first instalment of this collection brings together a selection of big-screen adaptations produced here in Britain.

Discover Edwardian shorts and 1920s features, revisit classics like David Lean’s Oliver Twist (1948), and if you’re still in “bah humbug” mode come January, no less than three film versions of A Christmas Carol. You’ll also find a range of Dickensian curiosities from the quirkier corners of the BFI National Archive.

Ten to try

Mr Pecksniff Fetches the Doctor (1904)

Could this sickly character be inspired by the greedy Seth Pecksniff of Martin Chuzzlewit fame?

David Copperfield (1913)

Ambitious early attempt by the Hepworth company to translate Dickens’ work to the screen in greater depth.

Bleak House (1920)

Lady Dedlock looms large in this rarely seen feature adaptation of the Dickens favourite.

Dickens’ London (1924)

The eccentric Wonderful London series investigates the capital’s Dickensian nooks and crannies.

The Only Way (1926)

Legendary actor-manager John Martin-Harvey leads as the tragic hero in this version of A Tale of Two Cities.

The Old Curiosity Shop (1934)

The first sound version of the novel, with Elaine Benson as Little Nell and Reginald Purdell as Dick Swiveller.

Oliver Twist Casting Appeal (1946)

Young Pip from Great Expectations helps David Lean find an Oliver.

Scrooge (1951)

The definitive Ebenezer Scrooge? See Alastair Sim’s bravura performance and judge for yourself.

Uneasy Dreams: The Life of Mr Pickwick (1970)

A fictional biography of Mr. Pickwick, from childhood to his adventures in The Pickwick Papers.

Great Expectations (1975)

Michael York stars as Pip in the first colour version of the Dickens classic.

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