Having sucked the pith out of Great Expectations twice over (Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham Carter both self-immolated as Miss Havisham), film producers are now delving into Oliver Twist for spin-off ideas.
The Hollywood Reporter says Sony’s film production wing is planning an “adventurous take” on Oliver Twist, in which Oliver, the innocent-but-plucky urchin, is teamed up with the Artful Dodger, the streetwise, topper-wearing, Cockernee watch-nicker. Only, in Dodge and Twist, they meet up 20 years after the events of the novel. “The two are on opposite sides of the law and get embroiled in an affair to steal the Crown Jewels,” the Reporter says.
In a post-modernist, mash-up world, where Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is in bookshops and Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Slayer is on cinema screens, this should come as no surprise; the screenplay is being written by Cole Haddon, who’s behind an upcoming Dracula serial on NBC. But it’s interesting the film plot pitches Oliver and Artful as “pickpocketing rivals” when Oliver supposedly unlearned his lessons in pickpocketing after he discovered his true (posh) parentage.
Why, though, spoil a new Hollywood franchise for the sake of plot details? Why not resurrect Bill Sikes, the murderous thug in the book (who accidentally hanged himself while trying to flee the police) and Fagin, the overseer of the pickpocket gang (hanged in prison), have them move in together and construct a hilarious sitcom about their odd-couple life?
Fagin and Sikes could have Fagin as an upwardly mobile Jewish antiques dealer living in Brooklyn, who is routinely embarrassed by the uncouth eruptions of Sikes. Don’t thank me, Harvey. Just send the contracts and a development fee….