Tom Jones Reviews
Plot: The story begins with Squire Allworthy coming home from a trip to find a baby in his room. Thinking that his barber and one of his female servants had the child out of lust, he banished both and takes the child as his own naming him Tom Jones. From there the story is about Tom Jones all grown up with all these sorts of adventures of wooing or sleeping with women and eventually traveling to London and who knows what.
Again I say; what that frick? I may not have seen all of the best picture winners yet, but I think this one is easily the most messed up kind of movie to win. And comparing to all the really bit best picture screw ups from Broadway Melody to Shakespeare in Love, that's saying a lot. While just about all of the other best picture winner are romantic comedies, thrillers, romantic drama, and heaven knows what else, I really can't believe that at some point in the past, one of the winners is a comedy in this specific kind of style. Tom Jones is a comedy that starts off with a silent movie kind of sequence but is afterwords just this story film that is otherwise just a story based off a book apparently with even points where Tom Jones and a couple of other characters break the fourth wall. It's still a little fun enough to be something of a meh film - because while this film is hardly laugh out loud hysterical and doesn't really go over the top... like at all, it has its moments in being a little amusing with some of its jokes and its performances somewhat - but even so, it's still just a meh kind of movie, and it just is a marvel for me that a movie like this was even nominated let alone won best picture. I mean how it won, I have no idea. I understand that it's something of an adaption of some book, and it became such a huge deal in England...and...that's just it. I don't really know for sure why it won, I guess enough people thought it funny that the academy decided to make it the winner.
And that's my review for Tom Jones. It really is just some meh kind of comedy movie that even if it was something of a talk of the town back in it's day (at least in England for all we know for sure), but it doesn't really hold out to the point where people like me are just scratching their heads that this movie won best picture.
All these counter-cultural movies portray the disreputable as the pinnacle of humanity, & the reputable as worthless & stuffy objects of contempt. They're all just such cute, clever, & lovable miscreants. Wiley little rascals! How can we then question what they do? I know it was presented in such a way where the audience was supposed to find him just irresistibly endearing...he annoyed me greatly.
It is not without achievement. The direction was superb, at times. Finney is very good. Many of the performers are. The mode of story-telling is quite unique & interesting. I did enjoy the hunting scene, but the direction in that scene was a little spastic.
More bad. I'm not sure if this film is the origination of the idea that a couple acting like retards was the universal sign of falling in love. The eating scene disgusted me one several levels. And the fact that the beautiful Miss Western would still be so unquestioningly & blindly given over to Tom Jones, despite anything he did whatsoever (multiple elicit affairs) is an insult to my intelligence & her character. She just always takes him back, & we're supposed to believe her to be a great lady.
He's continually referred to as our hero. Speak for yourself. Not mine.
Lesson: if you're related to the right people, you can get the girl.
Henry Fielding is sometimes credited with inventing the modern novel, and his works read like an experiment in a new form; in Joseph Andrews the narrator actually tells the reader to skip the boring parts. And in Tom Jones it is clear that this is a faithful adaptation if only because the spirit of experimentation pervades. It is a romp, full of baudy humor and high-energy ballyhoo. The characters even break the fourth wall a few times. But when I read Fielding, I often feel like I'm looking at a child's creation out of Play-Doh and other people expect me to see Rodin. I felt the same way about this film. Yes, I like the satire - the blood spewing from the horses, whipped too a frenzy by fanatical hunters, and the so-called "ladies of quality" acting more whorish than a Kardashian - but director Tony Richardson crosses the line between mad-cap romp with a purpose and mad-cap romp for romp's sake. The ending is too convenient, the behavior too extreme to be taken seriously, Tom Jones is a film made out of Play-Doh.
Overall, even though its heart is the right place, I think the film strays too far into unreality to have any real effect.
The plot is a condensation of an 800-plus-page novel, so it ends up being kind of overstuffed and zany. The story concerns Tom Jones a young man of uncertain parentage who has been raised by a prominent squire in 18th century England, and his multiple amorous misadventures. He sleeps or at least flirts with so many different women in the movie that I honestly lost count at some point.
Albert Finney is charming as the perpetually beset Tom Jones, though his presence isn't really strong enough to completely hold together a movie whose tendency is to spin out of control. Susannah York is kind of bland as his love interest Sophie. The movie got three best supporting actress Oscar nominations, which makes it unique in Oscar history: one each for Edith Evans as Sophie's stuffy old aunt, one for Diane Cilento as bawd-next-door Molly, and one for Joyce Redman as an older woman of ill repute. All three performances are amusing, though they're not the sort of thing the Academy would ever think to nominate these days. Hugh Griffith also got an Oscar nomination as the drunken and repulsive Squire Western, and does a good job of being drunken and repulsive.
What really makes the movie of interest, I think, is the playfully postmodern way Tony Richardson put it together. It opens with a faux-silent-film sketch, complete with intertitles, of Jones's birth and discovery. Throughout, there are many instances of fourth-wall-breaking, the narrator being snarky, New-Wave-y tricks with sped-up film or freeze-frames and such, and just a generally irreverent feel. This must have been a real shock to the system in 1963, when you think of the other films that came out around that time, and it's got some of the techniques that Woody Allen used more elegantly to win another Best Picture Oscar 14 years later with Annie Hall. The movie easily could have been a boring costume drama, but it plays itself as an outrageous comedy. It's also notable that it insistently treats the 18th century as a rather dirty, nasty time - consider an extended, ridiculous sequence in which Tom and a woman flirt while eating all kinds of disgusting food. It's still extremely funny, and it contrasts sharply with our typical notion of period pieces as dry, clean films.
Still, as interesting as the movie is, it has become somewhat dated by now. The cinematography looks faded and dull. The ribaldry seems awfully tame by our post-The-Hangover standards. Some sequences and scenes drag on way too long and the movie occasionally becomes boring. Still, though, if you can mentally transport yourself back to 1963, when all of this was in fact outrageous and new, you will be able to appreciate Tom Jones for the fun movie that it is.