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. Oliver! was the last film distributed on a "road show" basis -- that is, with advance ticket sales and assigned seating at each theater. Where a roadshow engagement had once been a way of attaching prestige to a film, 1960s audiences had tired of the practice, heading to suburban malls for their moviegoing rather than to the older, larger downtown theaters where roadshow films typically played. 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