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Winner of four Academy Awards including best picture, director, screenplay, and music, this 1963 adaptation of Henry Fielding's classic novel is a rousing, bawdy comedy about a young man's ribald adventures in 18th-century England. Albert Finney is splendidly hilarious in the title role of a charming womanizer who was discovered as an abandoned infant in the bed of Squire Allworthy, a wealthy landowner who named the child Tom Jones and raised him as his own. As a young man, Tom yearns for the comely daughter (Susannah York) of a neighboring squire, but his amorous adventures (including an extended food orgy that becomes the film's funniest scene) lead him to London and to a duel with a jealous husband. He's sentenced to hang, but fate intervenes. A hit around the world, the film was expertly written by noted playwright John Osborne, and Richardson uses a variety of old-style movie techniques to heighten the lusty, good-natured fun. Don't miss this one! --Jeff Shannon
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So where is the remastered Blu-Ray? Why are so many truly horrible movies being redone, and this one is ignored? I can't understand how these decisions are made. Please, MGM, do something about this! I'll buy it in a heartbeat, as I'm sure will many others. Few films can lift my spirits like this one can, leaving me smiling in pure delight!
I also appreciated the performances of David Warner, as the disgustingly priggish tutor, Mr. Bliful, and Diane Cilento (once married to Sean Connery...) as Tom's sometime paramour. The entire cast is excellent, including Joan Greenwood as the predatory older woman after Tom at any cost. Watch for the Masquerade Ball and see Hugh Griffith in his elephant mask; what a great scene!
The peripheral players are superb, as is the setting of London in the eighteenth century, with the deplorable lack of sanitary conditions and the terrible poverty. The music is haunting, the scene at the Inn (yes, the food scene, of course, one of the more outstanding in the movie) but also the frenetic byplay of the characters winding up in each other's beds with different wives and lovers, it is such a classic melange of humor, drama and near tragedy, there simply isn't one moment of bad film or minute of tedium...you will be absorbed all the way through, and enjoy this rambunctious, joyful frolic with Tom and his supporting cast of finely drawn characters. One last comment: The scene of Tom and Sophie, running, taking turns rowing a boat and falling in love on the grounds of her father's estate, is absolutely beautiful; watch for the scene of them picking blossoms and Sophie laughing and the blossoms falling into her mouth; very sensual and exquisitely detailed, as is the entire production.
Counter to the more literary version of the BBC, Richardson's version is lively, vibrant, giving a good social picture of the late 18th century: The life of the peasants against that of the landed gentry, and the contrast of the various levels of city (ie London) life. In between the vagaries of overland travel, with bandits and daylight robbers, and the marching army pressing young men into their service.
Country taverns is where all travellers meet, urban and rural alike, and since all ways lead to or from London, many more people run into each other than they themselves expect. So eloped wives find irate husbands looking for them, and the anonymity with which many persons travel seems to be uncovered at the slightest occasion. Acting is good within the stereotype in which characters are cast, camera work is good and inventive, and the whole film a very pleasurable and witty entertainment.