In the 1970ís, Readerís Digest produced a series of family-oriented films. These included Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Mr. Quilp, which was based on Dickensís The Old Curiosity Shop. Mr. Quilp was released in the United Kingdom on December 26, 1975, opening at a West End theater. The film had opened in New York on November 12. It opened at ten theaters in Los Angeles on the 19th, and in 150 theaters around the United States on November 20, 1975.
Mr. Quilp starred Anthony Newley as the villainous Mr. Quilp, Michael Hordern as Nellís grandfather, David Hemmings as Dick Swiveller, and Sarah Jane Varley as Little Nell.
The musical adaptation of Mr. Quilp had a large cast, with Sarah Jane Varley and David Hemmings giving outstanding performances in the musical numbers. Varley was only twelve when she was selected from among five hundred young hopefuls auditioning for the role of Little Nell. David Hemmings entered show business at the age of nine, as a boy soprano. He began appearing in British films in the late 1950ís, and continued his career as a film director in the1970ís.
This image from a photo still shows Sarah Jane Varley and David Hemmings in a musical number from Mr. Quilp.