David Copperfield's father dies 3 months before his birth. His mother, very young, pretty, and inexperienced, raises the boy with the help of her loyal maid, Clara Peggoty. Things go well, young Davy (Freddie Bartholomew) is growing up in a happy, loving home – until his mother marries again. Mr. Murdstone, Davy's stepfather, believes that “firmness” is the only way of dealing with boys. He ends up sending Davy away and eventually inheriting all his property after the death of Davy's young mother. After many trials Davy is adopted by his eccentric aunt, Betsy Trotwood (Edna May Oliver).
The second part of the movie shows the grown-up David Copperfield (Frank Lawton) who has completed his education and is apprenticed as a clerk to work in a law firm. He meets his boss's daughter Dora (Maureen O'Sullivan) and falls in love. His feelings are returned, but Dora's father is furious when he finds out about the engagement. Meanwhile, David's aunt goes bankrupt, the family loses most of their possessions, and David has to work even harder in order to provide for himself and his loved ones.
The review of this Movie prepared by Laura Southcombe
The film tells of the journey of little David growing to adulthood to be a good and honest man despite the setbacks and hardships he experiences along the way. Young and beautiful widow Clara Copperfield (Allan) is paid an unexpected visit by her late husband's meddlesome aunt Betsey Trotwood (Oliver). The encounter is stressful and she goes into labor. Young David Copperfield (Batholomew) is named after his dead father. He grows up adoring the two women who run the household- his mother and nurse/servant Peggoty (Ralph). When David is sent away with Peggoty to visit her brother Dan (Barrymore), a fisherman and a bachelor, his mother remarries an overbearing scoundrel named Murdstone (Rathbone). David learns the unhappy truth when he returns home after a fortnight away. Murdstone and his sister Jane are now running the household with an iron fist as they exact psychological and physical cruelty upon the little boy and his sweet natured mother. Eventually David is orphaned when Clara passes away during childbirth with David's baby brother. Peggoty is dismissed from service and David is sent to live and work in London with the Micawber family.
Mr. Micawber (Fields) is a congenial fellow if a bit irresponsible with money and takes an immediate liking to his young ward. When the court closes Micawber's bottling enterprise down and ships the family out of London David must scramble to avoid returning to face the Murdstones. His trunk and money stolen, the boy walks the 72 miles from London to Dover to arrive at Aunt Trotwood's home by the sea. She hates donkeys and is not very fond of boys either. Upon meeting him she is revolted by his haggard and dirty state of appearance. She asks the advice of Mr. Dick, an addle-brained but kind natured and jolly fool, before summoning the Murdstone's to decide David's fate. When she meets them she appraises the true nature of the pair with perfect clarity and runs them out of the house. David is sent to school in Canterbury under the tutelage of Mr. Wickfield (Stone). David (Lawton) grows up having great affection for Wickfield and his daughter Agnes, but not for Wickfield's apprentice Uriah Heep (Young). The young man is reunited with Micawber who enters into a covert partnership with Heep just as David sets off for college to become a writer.
Steerforth (Williams) David's amiable friend from college accompanies him to visit Peggoty, her brother, and the entire extended brood. Steerforth seduces Emily, despite that fact that she is betrothed to Ham. She and runs off with him breaking her family's heart. David announces to Agnes and his aunt that he is in love with Dora, breaking Agnes' heart. Back at the home of his mentor David finds treachery at the hands of Heep. Micawber is aware of the power that Heep has used to finagle his way into a partnership with Wickfield but will not tell David. David marries pleasant but simple Dora (O'Sullivan) who proves to be a poor manager of their household and it's finances. David loves her but is exasperated with her ineptitude. Dora falls ill and David calls for Peggoty. Emily, abandoned by Steerforth in Naples, attempts suicide before she is returned home where shortly thereafter she dies. Ham is killed attempting to rescue the cad Steerforth from a foundering ship caught in a storm off shore. Steerforth perishes as well. In short order Dora dies from her illness but not before speaking with Agnes about David. David leaves the country only to return a year later to Canterbury to try to set things right for the Wickfields, as Heep has a stranglehold on the old man and his business. Micawber, riddled with guilt for having sold out to the scoundrel, finally comes clean with proof of Heep's deceit and denounces the crook. At last David and Dora are together.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Fletcher