Great Expectations (1947)

(On Cable TV, May 2018) Some films connect and others don’t, and the 1947 version of Great Expectations mostly doesn’t despite a few good qualities. I suspect that I would have been far more impressed by this take if I had both read and loved the original Dickens novel, or had I not seen the 1998 version transplanting the story to contemporary Florida and New York. As it is, this faithful Victorian-era version of Great Expectations is both a retread of a story I knew, with just enough to keep it interesting but not enough to make it anything memorable. The highlight of the movie, aside from David Lean’s competent direction and occasional set pieces, is John Mills’s performance as adult Pip, moving through the years and becoming ever more hardened by the events of his life.   Otherwise, it’s a good movie that has aged into a bit of an average viewing experience. The Victorian details can be intriguing, and there’s no denying the effectiveness of Dickens’ plotting. But there isn’t much here to be enthusiastic about, although I’ll allow for the possibility that another look at Great Expectations, at a different time, may produce a more enthusiastic reaction—after all, my issues here are about impact, not quality of execution.

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