Chancery Lane – Great Expectations (1946)

Great Expectations (1946) | Chancery Lane

“I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion and morality.”

The original London crime novel, Dickens serialised his 1860 story in his ‘All the Year Round’ periodical.

As a child living in the Kent marshes, Pip (John Mills) helps an escaped convict whom he encounters by his parents’ graves. Pip is haunted by this act throughout his adult life in London, where he learns a trade. The burden of this decision only grows heavier when the identity of his anonymous benefactor is revealed.

Pip takes up lodgings in Barnard’s Inn despite being a blacksmith’s apprentice. This reflects the fact that the area around Chancery Lane, while associated with the Inns of Court, was a far more socially fluid area than the well-appointed buildings may suggest. Dickens considered the Law as a profession. His books are full of lawyers, and people living in the area around the Inns of Court from all walks of life despite their humble origins.

David Lean’s film is regarded widely as one of the most faithful adaptations of Dickens, with a cast which also includes Jean Simmons, Valerie Hobson, Alec Guinness and Martita Hunt.