Dickens, Disney, Dreyfuss

November 15, 1997|By David Zurawik

Hot on the heels of its triumph with "Cinderella," "The Wonderful World of Disney" takes on "Oliver Twist" (7 p.m.-9 p.m. tomorrow, WMAR, Channel 2) with much of the same exuberance, magic and charm.

Just as Whitney Houston did in "Cinderella," Richard Dreyfuss both stars and serves as an executive producer in this production. His performance as Fagin is a magic act in that he manages to make this ancient tutor to a band of child pickpockets in Dickens' London both menacing and likable in a flim-flam-man kind of way.

Almost as impressive are the performances of Elijah Wood as the Artful Dodger and Alex Trench as Oliver. There isn't a bad supporting actor in the large and energetic cast.

A couple of warnings, though: 1) The opening with Oliver's pregnant mother stumbling through the countryside looking for a place to give birth might be a little intense and confusing to very young children. 2) Historically, Fagin is a character who carries an enormous amount of anti-Semitic baggage. I had a hard time getting past it despite Dreyfuss' winning ways.

Pub Date: 11/15/97

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