Alec Guinness’s first scene in his first film role is, aptly, a moment of introduction. As the boyish gentleman Herbert Pocket, he bounds up a flight of stairs to meet his new lodging companion, Pip (John Mills). Guinness captures Dickens’s description exactly, conveying “something wonderfully hopeful” about him: “He had not a handsome face, but it was better than handsome: being extremely amiable and cheerful.”
Guinness had adapted the novel for the stage before his wartime Navy service. The film’s director, David Lean, and producer Ronald Neame had admired that production and duly offered Guinness this role. They went on to many successful collaborations over several decades.
Archival print courtesy of the British Film Institute
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