Tom Jones (1963)

Tom Jones
Directed by Tony Richardson
Written by John Osborne from the novel by Henry Fielding
1963/UK
Woodfall Film Productions
Repeat viewing/FilmStruck

 

Narrator: Heroes, whatever high ideas we may have of them, are mortal and not divine. We are all as God made us, and many of us much worse.[

Although the young Albert Finney continues to be very easy on the eyes, I don’t think this film has aged all that well.

The film is based on the ribald picaresque Georgian novel and is set in the same period. Tom Jones (Finney) was found abandoned in the bed of Squire Allworthy, adopted and raised as Allworthy’s own son.  The bastard grows up to be a scamp and babe magnet who can’t resist bedding his many conquests.  His heart, however, belongs to the fair Sophia (Susannah York), daughter of Allworthy’s neighbor Squire Western (Hugh Griffith). She loves him too but may be unwillingly forced to marry Tom’s rotten cousin.  Eventually the cousin arranges to trick Allworthy into kicking Tom out of his house.

The remainder of the story covers Tom’s many adventures, both romantic and otherwise, on the road.  Sophia has run away from home and has some adventures of her own before the two are reunited.  With Edith Evans as Allworthy’s sister; Diane Cliento as a wild poacher’s daughter; Joyce Redman as the randy Mrs. Waters; and Joan Greenwood as Lady Belleston, an aristrocratic conquest of Tom’s.

This movie is an epic comedy that is mainly various set pieces strung together as a story.  I remember it being better than it seemed to me this time around.  The comedy is broad and didn’t work as well.  There’s a kind of dated flavor of “Swinging Sixties” “Swinging England”. On the other hand Finney and the scenery are gorgeous and the various supporting actresses are accomplished.

Tom Jones won Academy Awards for Best Picture; Best Director; Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium; and Best Music, Score – Substantially Original. It was nominated in the categories of Best Actor; Best Supporting Actress (Diane Cliento, Edith Evans and Joyce Redman); and Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color.

Trailer

2 thoughts on “Tom Jones (1963)

  1. I didn’t hate this, but I didn’t love it, either. It seems far too froofy? Fizzy? Dippy? to be taken that seriously as a Best Picture candidate, let alone a winner.

    It’s not one that I’d plan on watching again.

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