Oliver! proved that the British film industry could produce high-quality musicals at least as good as the best musicals from Hollywood. The bad news was that they had proven their ability to make a type of film that was quickly fading from style. It was the first musical for veteran director Carol Reed, who pushed the edge of what was considered acceptable family fare and gave the film a dark, Dickensian undertone that provided a rich contrast to its surface-level cheeriness. On Oscar night, Oliver! took home five awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. With the era of the musical coming to an end, the film had little lasting influence, though in the mid-1980s its production numbers were savagely, but not entirely without affection, lampooned in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
by Richard Gilliam review