Left: The original 1948 poster for Lean’s Oliver Twist. Middle: 1948 poster from Yugoslavia, Right: Later poster showing Sykes instead of Fagin with Oliver. Posters from The Calinescu Collection, Toronto. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

The award-winning David Lean film, released in 1948, was the fifth most popular film in Britain in 1949, but accusations of anti-semitism and the riot at the cinema in March 1949, in West Berlin prompted the Hollywood distributors to delay release of the film with a different promotional poster featuring Sikes (Robert Newton) and Oliver rather than Fagin (Alec Guinness) and Oliver (young John Howard Davies, who had no previous acting credits) in 1951. Other members of the star-studded cast included the dynamic Anthony Newly as The Artful Dodger, Kay Walsh as Nancy, and the inimitable Francis L. Sullivan as Bumble, the spitting image of Cruikshank's Beadle. When this film was finally released in the United States in 1951, the distributors saw to that seven minutes of profile shots and other parts of Guinness's performance had been cut to mute effect of his large prosthetic nose, evident in the British and Yugoslavian promotional posters. The Australian poster, in contrast, avoided the issue entirely by focusing on the character of Nancy, although the image of the vigorous, raw-boned young woman looks nothing like Kay Walsh.


Stephens, John Russell. The Censorship of English Drama, 1824-1901. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 1980 [digitized 2010], p. 73.

Last modified 1 March 2016