Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Top Billed Actors: Freddie Bartholomew, Frank Lawton, Edna May Oliver
IMDb Rating: 7.6
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 0 Oscars
Nominated for 3 more:
Best Film Editing - Robert Kern
Best Assistant Director - Joseph M. Newman
Plot: We observe the personal history and adventures of David Copperfield the Younger as he experiences them.
The sheer amount of respect that the producer and one of the lead actors had for the source material in the two anecdotes above shows just how great anything coming out of Dickens' head is. Two of my personal favorite stories of all time are also penned by Dickens, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. I have never read David Copperfield but it appears the filmmakers get it right here. The development of the characters in David's boyhood is very well paced and it is rewarding to see how they all grow by the end of the movie. It is perplexing that this did not at least get a nomination for Adapted Screenplay. The music is also integrated to a much better degree than most movies at this time. The editing of the scene in which Batholomew is walking to his aunt's house is superb. It really feels like the viewer is right there with the young Copperfield and the music really sets the foreboding tone of that place in the story.
There are a couple of moments that does hinder the film. The pacing in the final act of the movie is very odd. The scenes become shorter and the impact moments become larger. It almost feels like a slideshow of major events in Copperfield's life. The acting by Bartholomew is also all over the place. He does very well in some scenes, especially for an eleven year old who has never filmed in America before. At other times, his outbursts are just oddly placed and seem very unnatural. A lot of it can be attributable to the editing (which was nominated for an Oscar by the way). There are certain sequences that inserts an angle that just shows Bartholomew giving a short monologue. This creates poor cinematography and takes the viewer out of the interaction between the characters on screen.
Overall, the result of the development of characters in the first half of the film is fun to see in the latter half. The uneven pacing and strange editing techniques for the child actor's dialogue dampens the film slightly.
My Score: 7/10