Director Delbert Mann was a much better director than this film indicates. He directed ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, THAT TOUCH OF MINK, and THE LAST DAYS OF PATTON among others. This mediocre, made for television retelling of Dicken's masterpiece is so bad, even those unfamiliar with the often filmed tale, will be unsatisfied.
Besides the fact that the movie is available from only two known suppliers (Brentwood and BCI Eclipse LLC) the poor quality of the transfer, and the scratchy and muddied sound track make the task of finding this film on video not worth the effort.
I have always believed that if a company is going to put a film on video and charge the public money to buy it, then they should at least have a descent copy of the film and do a good job on the transfer. Unfortunately neither of the two suppliers have such a work ethic and the result is only fit for the bargain bin in the local discount store.
The story is told mainly through flashbacks, making the film episodic and talky. Much of the rich detail of the novel is lost in this translation. The characters of Martha, Traddles and others have been cut and the relationship of young David and Steerforth is not explored enough, so we are left wondering why David would hang out with the guy.
The relationship between David the boy, and young Agnes is never developed and it is hard to understand why she and David eventually marry. Since Martha is left out, it is a mystery how Dan Peggoty finds his niece. And the absence of Traddles makes David a very lonely fellow.
Some have credited this film with doing a good job of abridging the lengthy novel. I disagree, this is at best a hatchet job on the book. Anyone who has seen the 1935 George Cukor version will agree.
The performances in that version by Fields as Micawber and Rathbone as Murdstone, are definitely worth the trouble of watching it. And the more recent Masterpiece Theatre version (April 2000) and Hallmark (2000) versions are both outstanding achievements in made for television adaptations of classic novels. Directors Simon Curtis and Peter Medak who are responsible for those films are deserving of the highest praise.
My final comment on David COPPERFIELD 1969 is Don't buy it, there are several much better versions of the film available. If it is on television, turn the channel to something else. It is a waste of one hour and twenty minutes of your life. Sorry folks, but I can't praise such an appallingly bad film.
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