David Lean’s black-and-white masterpiece may be a whirlwind tour of Dickens’ novel, but what a well-performed, economic and atmospheric tour it is, and one that manages in two hours to capture much of the chronological and emotional sweep of a 525-page novel. Lean’s superb opening recreation of the ominous Kent marshes, with young Pip (Anthony Wager) hurrying past a series of gallows-posts, sets the scene for this young child’s brush with fate and accidental elevation to a young London gentleman (played then by John Mills, already too old at 38). The characters have the same immediate power as on the page: Bernard Miles is gentle, damaged and good as Joe Gargery; Finlay Currie is terrifying and vulnerable as Magwitch; Martita Hunt’s imperial Miss Havisham has nasty charm; and Jean Simmons’ young Estella is dangerously alluring. A 32-year-old Alec Guinness (from whose stage-production the film emerged) is excellent as Pip’s oh-so-decent companion, Herbert Pocket. And Pip’s awkward scenes with Joe Gargery relate as powerfully now to themes of class, home, aspiration and snobbery as in 1946 and the mid nineteenth century. See it!