8:00 PM, 29th October, 2004
Nicholas Nickleby was the third novel written by Charles Dickens and this film version was adapted to the screen by Douglas McGrath (who also worked on Emma). Thankfully it is considerably shorter than the 9 hour Royal Shakespeare Company stage production, but it manages to capture the flavour of the book despite the editorial license.
Nicholas Nickleby (Charlie Hunnam, whom you may have seen in Queer as Folk or Cold Mountain) has been living a comfortable country life, until his father dies. The Nicklebys move to the city and Nicholas seeks financial assistance from their scrooge of an uncle, Ralph Nickleby (Plummer). His uncle sends Nicholas to Dotheboy's Hall, a boarding school run by Wackford Squeers (Broadbent), where he is given a job tutoring children. Moved by Squeers's brutal treatment of the servant Smike (Bell), Nicholas rebels against his employer and takes Smike with him. He joins an acting troupe led by Vincent Crummles (Lane) and while performing in Liverpool receives word that his uncle has matched Nicholas's sister Kate in a marriage of convenience. Nicholas heads back to London to sort out his uncle with the aid of Ralph's servant, Newman Noggs (Courtenay). Despite the moments of brutality that often feature in Dickens's stories, the tone of this film is light and cheerful.
10:33 PM, 29th October, 2004
There have been several adaptations of Oscar Wilde's ageless classic and this is the best of them. Dorian Gray (Hatfield) is a handsome, but expressionless, young man who wishes to remain eternally young (even at the expense of his soul). His wish is granted and while he remains youthful in appearance, his portrait continues to grow old and bears the scars of his amoral activities. Dorian romances a young innocent nightclub singer, Sybil (Lansbury), subsequently discarding her. She later commits suicide, yet Dorian feels no remorse. Dorian's life of debauchery becomes the scandal of London, but when he finally seeks redemption it is too late for him. George Sanders, as Lord Wotton (or the Devil, depending on your point of view), delivers many of Wilde's witticisms: "There's only one way to get rid of temptation, and that's to yield to it". The film was shot in black and white (apart from the scenes of the portrait, which were shot in colour) and won an Oscar for cinematography.