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The Vicar of Wakefield

Leads and locations shine in this feature adaptation of Oliver Goldsmith's popular novel, a tale to soften hard hearts

Period drama 1916 98 mins


George Primrose, the titular vicar played by veteran stage actor John Hare, has always put others' needs first and trusted in his God. However, his family are left destitute when he is cheated out of his money by a rogue banker, and soon enough they are surrounded by swindlers and cads. Is his faith naïve or will the Good Lord provide? The theft of Primrose's cash and the abduction of his daughter add drama to this otherwise slyly comic adaptation of Oliver Goldsmith's sentimental classic.

The 18th century novel The Vicar of Wakefield was widely read in the Victorian age, and would have been familiar to the 1916 audience, although it's less well known now. This very successful feature-length adaptation was directed by Swiss-born British filmmaker Fred Paul. The scenes in the debtors' jail are especially effective, and Hare's lead performance is very strong, supported notably by two other experienced actors, AE George as the venal Jenkinson, and Ben Webster as his benefactor Thornhill.