by Douglas Messerli
The four major film productions of Dickens' great childhood fantasia on poverty and fate, Oliver Twist, are all, on the surface, more or less true to the great novelist's work. Strangely enough, however, the shortest of them, Frank Lloyd's 1922 silent version, just 74 minutes in length, is the closest to the rambunctious original. With great synthesis and the use of word boards, Lloyd manages to keep the Monks part of the story—the half-brother of Oliver out to swindle the hero of his inheritance—as well as the Rose Maylie sequences, wherein just as he was by Mr. Brownlow, Oliver is given warm love and attention. Lloyd even manages to bring the country bumpkin Noah Claypole to London and back into Oliver's fate.