Available on DVD !
To buy, click on link(s) below and help keep this site afloat
Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
When David Copperfield the younger is born, his father is already dead,
but when the boy is in his early teens (and played by Freddie
Bartholomew), his mum (Elizabeth Allan) has decided to marry again, the
charming Mr Murdstone (Basil Rathbone), a man David immediately distrusts
- and right he is, too, because once his mother has married him, Murdstone
and his sister (Violet Kemble Cooper) totally take over the Copperfield
household and terrorize David and his mother. Eventually, David's mother
dies when giving birth to David's little brother, and so does the newborn
- and Murdstone wastes no time sending David away to London to learn a
trade, which basically means working and Mr Micawber's wine trading
company. As hard as the work is though, Mr Micawber (W.C. Fields) is a
kind-hearted man and the first friend David has had in a long time. But as
nice a man as Micawber might be, he also owes money all across the city,
and eventually is jailed for it, and once released he is thrown out of
London - which means David is out of a job, out of a home, and out of a
David decides to head for Dover - and on foot, too, after he is
robbed - to seek shelter with the only relative left to him, aunt Betsey
(Edna May Oliver), a woman he has never met. He finds her to be a
cantankerous spinster, but with a heart of gold, and when Murdstone
arrives at her doorstep to retrieve the boy, she just won't hand David
over and instead chases Murdstone and sister off the premises.
though, she has to send him away, to learn a trade at lawyer Wickfield's
(Lewis Stone) office, but that doesn't seem too bad once David has made
the acquaintance of Wickfield's daughter Agnes (Marilyn Knowlden).
have passed, and David has grown a man (and is now played by Frank Lawton)
when he decides to leave Wickfield's employ to go to London to write his
first novel - but not before providing his old friend Micawber with employ
in Wickfield's office, which seems to more and more slip Wickfield's
control due to his drinking habit, and instead, his clerk Uriah Heep
(Roland Young) attempts to take over.
In London, David meets Dora
(Maureen O'Sullivan), whom he immediately falls in love with and soon
marries - much to the dismay of his childhood sweetheart Agnes (now played
by Madge Evans) -, but the longer they are married, the more Dora turns
out to be an incompetent housekeeper and an all-around childish being who
drives David to despair sometimes - and yet he can't stop loving her, and
when she falls gravely ill and dies, it breaks his heart and he leaves
England altogether for a year.
When David returns to Mr Wickfield's
place, he finds it has effectively been taken over by Uriah Heep, who has
swindled and weaseled his way upstairs and who also seems to have Micawber
under his thumb. But at heart, Micawber is an honest man, and eventually
he confides into David and delivers proof for Uriah Heep's wrongdoings,
and eventually, too, David presents Uriah with this evidence, which weighs
heavily enough for Uriah to leave voluntarily to evade prosecution.
these affairs in order, David, who has come to his senses in Europe,
proposes to Agnes, who happily accepts ...
When it comes to
translating Charles Dickens' novel into a feature film, this one does
pretty well, it's relatively kitsch-free, the cast is pretty amazing and
everyone looks his or her part, the story is dramatic in all the
appropriate spots, and the direction is very cinematic (as opposed to
stagey, as is the case with many other literary adaptations) - but all
that said, David Copperfield is far from a masterpiece, and the
problem lies within the source novel itself that is far too complex and
too rich in subplots to be properly translated into a feature film, even
one that lasts over 2 hours like this one. Having said this, David
Copperfield's complexity might work very well in book form, as novels
follow different rules from feature films, but on the big screen the story
simply lacks a real climax, instead seems to be wandering off left and
right every now and again for no apparent reason, while at the same time,
many subplots seem to be underdeveloped due to temporary constraints.
all said, I'm not saying that David Copperfield is a bad
film, and it's quite probably the best adaptation of Dickens' novel ...
but it's not an excellent film, either.