1968's Best Picture Oliver! is commonly disparaged these days as an Oscar blunder and a typical example of the bloat that eventually derailed the musical genre. Musicals were big business back then and like animated family features now or action films roughly a decade ago, the running times got more and more padded. It's a common hubris problem for whatever genre is the reigning box office champion. 1968 featured at least four big ticket musicals -- Funny Girl, Finian's Rainbow, Star! and Oliver! -- and they all clock in well over 2 hours with all but one of them tipping over to be closer to 3 hours in length. Combine this problem with the critical endurance of 2001: A Space Odyssey's legend and add in that six Oscar haul and what do you get? Critical animosity. Oscar enthusiasts are familiar with this phenom and they know that winning the big prize isn't always good for your place in film history.
So Oliver! will have to settle for its place in personal histories and in mine it looms large. (It's weird that as a child I had such a long attention span. As an adult I get antsy once you've past the 110 minute mark but wee Nat couldn't get enough of all 153 minutes of this musicalized Oliver Twist whenever it played on television.) It probably won't surprise you to hear that literally every one of my favorite scenes was focused on Nancy, the prostitute with the heart of gold (Shani Wallis).