A handsomely-mounted prestige production from a famous literary work, there’s probably nothing particularly revolutionary in David Lean’s Dickens adaptation, but it’s still a pleasant two hours’ viewing. The central role of Pip is played by John Mills, an actor already far too old to convince as a twenty-something, though he captures a certain wide-eyed naïveté. Much better is Alec Guinness as his fey living companion Herbert. Valerie Hobson rounds out the main cast as the stand-offish object of Pip’s affections, Estella, tutored by the fusty Victorian spinster Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt). There’s some good use of contrast and shadows in the black-and-white cinematography (though this was pushed further in his second Dickens film of Oliver Twist).
FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director David Lean; Writers Lean, Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan (based on the novel by Charles Dickens); Cinematographer Guy Green; Starring John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Alec Guinness, Martita Hunt; Length 113 minutes.
Seen at a friend’s home (DVD), London, Sunday 5 April 2015.