Delbert Mann's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic for television is enacted by much of the royalty of the British 20th Century stage. Framed in the flashbacks of the reflective Copperfield (Robin Phillips), the film follows the familiar picaresque tale of the boy buffeted by fate after being orphaned at a young age. First in the grip of cruel stepfather Mr. Murdstone (James Donald), he's later sheltered by the warm family of perennially penurious dreamer and drunkard, Mr. McCawber (Ralph Richardson). With McCawber's arrest for debt, David is lucky to be able to move on to the house of his Aunt Betsey (Wendy Hiller), which already harbors quite a cast of characters. When Murdstone makes a return appearance to seize the boy, his fearless aunt turns the man out. At college, David meets the dashing and handsome Steerforth (Corin Redgrave), who will figure prominently in the events of his life, along with the more down-to-earth Tommy Traddles (Nicholas Pennell). Yet no one makes more of an impression on the young man than the lovely Agnes Wickfield (Susan Hampshire). The extraordinary cast also includes Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Edith Evans, Emlyn Williams, Ron Moody, Richard Attenborough, and Cyril Cusack.
An exceptional cast of British actors brings to life Charles Dickens's classic story of orphan David Copperfield. Although the youngster is treated miserably by his brutish stepfather, he is able to rise above his environment and become a successful author. Along the way, he meets a gallery of unforgettable characters, including Uriah Heep, Mr. Micawber and Mr. Creakle.