Tom Jones (1963)

Tom, the adopted son of Squire Allworthy, is the roguish but good-hearted hero in Tony Richardson’s uproarious screen adaptation of Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel.

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“Screenwriter John Osborne’s courageous hatchet job on Fielding’s 1000-page classic novel and Finney’s gutsy performance add up to produce an enjoyable piece of irreverent entertainment.”
Robert Murphy, Time Out Film Guide

In 18th-century England, Tom Jones (Albert Finney) is a cheerful womaniser continually getting into scrapes, entangled with servant girls one minute and wooing his true love Sophie Western (Susannah York) the next. The plot is rudimentary, but it doesn’t matter: there’s so much fun to be had from the film’s mechanics. It starts in the mode of a silent comedy – with slapstick editing, intertitles and plinky-plonk music – and continues with purposely chaotic camerawork and direct addresses to the audience. Finney makes an ideal Tom, all charm, guile and high spirits, and the other actors are clearly enjoying themselves too. Tony Richardson’s film won Oscars for best picture and best director, and is, in every sense, a riot.

Tom Jones was the first of Tony Richardson’s two adaptations of Henry Fielding novels, the second being Joseph Andrews (1977), starring Peter Firth and Ann-Margret.

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