Great Expectations (1946 film)

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Great Expectations is a 1946 British film about a humble orphan boy in 1810s Kent who is given the opportunity to go to London and become a gentleman, with the help of an unknown benefactor.

Directed by David Lean. Written by David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, and Ronald Neame, based on the novel by Charles Dickens.
From the Vivid Pages of Charles Dickens' Masterpiece!taglines


  • My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
  • Long after I'd gone to bed that night, I thought of Estella and how common she would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith. I thought how he and my sister were sitting in the kitchen and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common things.
  • As I watched Joe that Tuesday morning dressed grotesquely in a new suit, let me confess that if I could have kept him away by paying money I certainly would have paid money. In trying to become a gentleman I had succeeded in becoming a snob.
  • I went to Richmond yesterday to speak to Estella, Miss Havisham, and finding that some wind had blown her here, I followed. What I have to say to Estella I will say before you in a few moments. It will not surprise you, it will not displease you. I'm as unhappy as you could ever have meant me to be. I have found out who my patron is. It isn't a fortunate discovery, and is not likely ever to enrich me in reputation, station, fortune, anything. But there are reasons why I can say no more of that. It is not my secret, but another's.
  • I have something to tell you. Can you understand what I say?
    You had a child once who you loved and lost.
    She lived and found powerful friends. She is living now. She is a lady and very beautiful. And I love her.
  • Biddy, you have the best husband in the world. And, Joe, you've the best wife in the world.


  • You may kiss me if you like. … Now you are to go home.

Joe Gargery[edit]

  • Pip! A young gentleman of great expectations.

Abel Magwitch[edit]

  • Dear boy. … I thought you wasn't coming and yet I knew somehow that you would. … God bless you! You have never deserted me and what's best of all is you've been more comfortable alonger me since I was under a dark cloud... than... than when the sun shone. That's best of all.

Miss Havisham[edit]

  • Come close. Look at me. You're not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?

Mr. Jaggers[edit]

  • Take nothing on its looks, take everything on evidence. There is no better rule.
  • Now, Pip: put the case that this legal advisor has often seen children tried at the criminal bar. Put the case that he has known them to be habitually imprisoned, whipped, neglected, cast out, neglected, cast out, qualified in all ways for the hangman, and growing up to be hanged. Put the case that here was one pretty little child out of the heap that could be saved. Put that last case to yourself very carefully, Pip. … Did he do right?


Abel Magwitch: Now, look here, do you know what a file is?
Pip: Yes, sir.
Abel Magwitch: Do you know what wittles is?
Pip: Food, sir.
Abel Magwitch: Then get me a file and wittles or I'll have your heart and liver out.
Pip: If you'd let me keep upright, sir, perhaps I shouldn't be sick and I could attend more.
Abel Magwitch: You bring that file and wittles to me here tomorrow morning.
Pip: Yes, sir.
Abel Magwitch: And never say a word of having seen such a person as me.
Pip: No, sir.
Abel Magwitch: If you do, your heart and liver'll be tore out and roasted and ate. There's a young man hid with me and in comparison with him I'm an angel! That young man has a secret way of getting at a boy and his liver. A boy may lock his door and be warm in bed, but that young man'll softly creep his way to him and tear him open!

Mrs. Joe Gargery: There you go! Answer the boy one question and he'll ask you a dozen. Hulks are prison ships, right across the marshes.
Pip: I wonder who's put in prison ships, and why they're put in there.
Mrs. Joe Gargery: People are put there because they murder and because they forge and rob and do all sorts of bad things. And they always start by asking too many questions.

Estella: He calls the knaves jacks, this boy! And what coarse hands he has! You stupid, clumsy labouring boy!
Miss Havisham: She says many hard things of you, but you say nothing of her. What do you think of her?
Pip: I don't like to say.
Miss Havisham: Tell me... in my ear.
Pip: I think she is very proud.
Miss Havisham: Anything else?
Pip: I think she is very pretty.
Miss Havisham: Anything else?
Pip: I think she is very insulting.
Miss Havisham: Anything else?
Pip: I think I should like to go home now.
Miss Havisham: And never see her again, though she is so pretty?
Pip: I'm not sure that I wouldn't like to see her again, but I think I'd like to go home now.

Pip: Do you remember the first time I came here? The time you made me cry?
Estella: Did I? I don't remember.
Pip: Not remember you made me cry?
Estella: You meant nothing to me. Why should I remember? … You must know, Pip, I have no heart. Perhaps that's why I have no memory.
Pip: No-one looking at you could believe that.
Estella: Oh, I have a heart to be stabbed at, or shot at, but there's no sympathy there, no softness, no sentiment. If we're to be thrown much together you had better believe that at once.
Pip: I can't believe it, Estella.
Estella: Very well. It's said at any rate. But remember how I've been brought up and don't expect too much of me.

Miss Havisham: Is she beautiful, graceful, well-grown? Do you admire her, Pip?
Pip: Everyone must who sees her.
Miss Havisham: She is going to London soon and you shall meet her there.
Pip: I shall be the happiest man in London, Miss Havisham.
Miss Havisham: Love her. If she favours you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces, love her. I adopted her to be loved.

Pip: When you first caused me to be brought here, Miss Havisham, I suppose I came here as any other chance boy might have, as a kind of servant, to gratify a want or a whim, and to be paid for it.
Miss Havisham: Aye, Pip, you did.
Pip: And that Mr Jaggers was...
Miss Havisham: Mr Jaggers had nothing to do with it. His being my lawyer and the lawyer of your patron was a coincidence. He holds the same relation towards numbers of people.
Pip: But when I fell into the mistake I have so long remained in, at least you led me on.
Miss Havisham: Yes. I let you go on.
Pip: Was that kind?
Miss Havisham: Who am I, for heaven's sake, that I should be kind! Well, well, well! What else?
Pip: Estella, I should have said this sooner but for my long mistake, which led me to believe that Miss Havisham meant us for one another. When I felt I couldn't tell you of my feelings while you were not free to choose for yourself. But now I have to go away and I must say it before I go.
I love you, Estella. I've loved you ever since I first saw you in this house.
Estella: Pip, I've tried to warn you not to love me, but you thought I didn't mean it.
Pip: Isn't it true that Bentley Drummle is in town here and pursuing you?
Estella: Quite true.
Pip: That you encourage him, and ride out with him, and that he dines with you this very day.
Estella: Quite true.
Pip: How can you fling yourself at such a man?
Estella: Should I rather fling myself at you, Pip, who would sense at once that I bring nothing to you?
Pip: But you cannot love him, Estella!
Estella: What have I always told you? Do you still think in spite of it that I don't mean what I say?
Pip: Estella, … you … you would never marry him?
Estella: Why not tell you the truth? I am going to be married to him. …[long silence — he turns, she walks over to him] Come, Pip. Don't be afraid of my being a blessing to him. I shall not be that. Here is my hand. Let us part on this. You'll get me out of your thoughts in a week.
Miss Havisham: What have I done? What have I done?
Pip: If you mean what have you done to me, Miss Havisham, let me answer. Estella has been part of my existence ever since I first came here, the rough, common boy whose heart she wounded even then. She has been the embodiment of every graceful fancy my mind has ever known. To the last hour of my life she cannot choose but to remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But you may dismiss me from your mind and conscience, but Estella is a different case. And if you can ever undo any scrap of what you've done amiss, in keeping part of her right nature away from her, it will be better to do that than to bemoan the past through a hundred years.

Estella [startled as Pip enters Miss Havisham's dining room] : Pip!
Pip: Estella! … Estella! What are you doing here? I thought you were in Paris with your husband.
Estella: I have no husband, Pip. Have you not heard?
Pip: I've been ill, Estella. I've heard nothing.
Estella: When Mr Jaggers disclosed to Bentley Drummle my true parentage, he no longer wished to have me for a wife.
Well, Pip, why don't you laugh? You've every right to.
Pip: I have no wish to laugh, Estella. I'm truly sorry.
Estella: You've no need to pity me. It has simplified my life. There's now no need to sell the house. It is mine and I shall live here. I shall like it here, Pip. Away from the world and all its complications.
Pip: Estella, how long have you been here?
Estella: I don't know.
Pip: Estella, you must leave this house. It's a dead house. Nothing can live here. Leave it, Estella, I beg of you.
Estella: What do you mean? This is the house where I grew up. It's part of me. It's my home.
Pip: It's Miss Havisham's home. But she's gone! From this house, from both of us!
Estella: She is not gone. She is still here with me in this house, in this very room.
Pip: Then I defy her.
I have come back, Miss Havisham! I have come back! To let in the sunlight! [Tears down the curtains from the windows] Look, Estella! Look! Nothing but dust and decay.
I've never ceased to love you, even when there seemed no hope for my love. You're part of my existence, part of myself. Estella, come with me, out into the sunlight. Look at me.
Estella: Pip, I'm afraid.
Pip: Look at me. We belong to each other. Let's start again. Together.

Quotes about Great Expectations[edit]

Sorted alphabetically by author or source
  • One of the great things about Charles Dickens is the way his people colonize your memory. I wonder if there's any writer except Shakespeare who has created more characters whose names we remember, and whose types seem so true to human nature. A director adapting a Dickens novel finds that much of his work has been done for him.
    Certainly that's the case with David Lean's Great Expectations (1946), which has been called the greatest of all the Dickens films, and which does what few movies based on great books can do: Creates pictures on the screen that do not clash with the images already existing in our minds.
    Lean brings Dickens' classic set-pieces to life as if he'd been reading over our shoulder: Pip's encounter with the convict Magwitch in the churchyard, Pip's first meeting with the mad Miss Havisham, and the ghoulish atmosphere in the law offices of Mr. Jaggers, whose walls are decorated with the death masks of clients he has lost to the gallows.
  • It was quite a surprise to learn that David Lean had not read Charles DickensGreat Expectations before he embarked on his film version in 1945. The closeness of the adaptation, the understanding of the characters, make one swear it was made by an aficionado, for Dickens is part of every English child’s education. Lean was not "well read" — amongst Dickens’ works, he claimed acquaintance only with A Christmas Carol — but like Dickens, he was a born storyteller.
    Lean brought to the project all his experience as a film editor — he cuts, dovetails, transposes, and simplifies, without betraying the source novel, though the ending to one of Dickens’ most pessimistic works has been somewhat modified.Great Expectations reveals a director free of any stage conventions and relishing his craft. The opening of the film has been studied for years and is held up as an exemplar of film editing. But it is also a brilliant synthesis of location shooting (the pan across the marshes with their lonely gibbets) with a studio set (graves with a back-projected church and looming sky), in which the hero, Pip, has his first fateful meeting with the fearsome Magwitch. … Fortunately, the Dickens-Lean partnership was more than a great strength. It was a marriage made in heaven.


  • From the Vivid Pages of Charles Dickens' Masterpiece!
  • Great Thrills! Great Romance! Great Suspense! Great Adventure!
  • NOW The Screen Fulfills Your Greatest Expectations...In ACTION! In ADVENTURE! In ROMANCE!


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