The Cinema Museum, London

Kennington Bioscope presents Oliver Twist (1922)

Wed 1 Mar 2023 @ 19:30 · Events

The Kennington Bioscope is a regular cinema event featuring live accompaniment to silent films that takes place at the Cinema Museum.

Oliver TwistOliver Twist (1922) 16mm print. Directed by Frank Lloyd, featuring Lon Chaney as Fagin and Jackie Coogan as Oliver Twist. Plus 35mm prints of the lost Fred Evans film, playing Pimple in Oliver Twisted (1918) and a Lon Chaney fragment from Tangled Hearts (1916). Plus a digital scan of the recently discovered Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgers (1912) and Hello Hollywood (1927) on 35mm. Christopher Bird will introduce the films, which are from his collection.

Thought lost for decades, Frank Lloyd’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of the boy who asked for more has an all-star cast. This spectacular silent film gem was rediscovered in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, and stars the man of a thousand faces, Lon Chaney, as Fagin and the then wunderkind of 1920s Hollywood, Jackie Coogan (straight after his heart-rending debut in Chaplin’s The Kid), in the title role.

The first noteworthy Fagin, Lon Chaney, was a good one. This version was the fifth or sixth silent adaptation of the Dickens novel but the best of that era. Chaney resists the temptation—which must have been difficult given the need for obvious histrionics in silent films—to play a Jewish stereotype. His Fagin is charming, scheming and whining as the character is required to be but never cringingly so. If any criticism can be made, it’s that he does not get enough screen time, as nearly the entire complicated novel is crammed into the movie that runs under an hour and a half. Most time is deservedly given to seven-year-old Jackie Coogan, the world’s top child star of the day, whose own company produced Oliver Twist between his bigger Hollywood hits. Coogan looks a little too young for Oliver, appearing as barely more than a toddler to my eyes and about half the size of the Artful Dodger and the other kids. But he works wonderfully in the role—pathetic and cute without every seeming to be playing to the camera. He suffers internally in a way that comes across visually without tears, without big gestures and certainly without words. Director Frank Lloyd is of the non-nonsense school of direction. He creates a completely realistic early nineteenth-century London, quite an achievement given his resources then. Then he gets believable performances out of his actors and points the largely stationary camera in the direction where it will get the most impact. Eric McMillan – Great Literature Text of All Time.

Piano accompaniment for the whole programme will be performed by John Sweeney.

Silent film with intertitles which may be suitable for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Tickets & Pricing

£7. Seats are limited, so please arrive early or request an invitation using the email
Oliver Twist (1922)