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This mini-series produced by the BBC and A & E has got to be one of the
finest things television has given us. It ranks with I Claudius and
Elizabeth R as great dramatic art. Full of wit, great storytelling, and
wonderful acting, this version of Henry Fielding's classic tale gives the
Albert Finney movie from the 60's a run for it's money and emerges
Firstly, the adaptation is masterful. Having Fielding himself narrate the story (delightfully played by John Sessions) was a stroke of genius. It has the advantage of presenting this boistrous tale in much more detail than the previous movie. Fielding's characters are so rich (much like Dickens) that
you don't mind spending alot of the time with them. Characters like Allworthy, Partridge, Thwackum and Square are comparative non-entities in the Tony Richardson movie. Here they emerge as sharp etched portraits that give the story so much more substance. In addition, the 1963 movie had to leave out large chunks of the story to tell it in under three hours. Additionally, Richardson's screenwriter John Osborne changed many details of the story to account for cutting out so many characters. Simon Burke and his collaboators on this project stick to Fielding with great results.
The direction by Metin Hüseyin is simply wonderful. He tells us the story and relishes every moment. The mini-series is cast with a splendid ensemble of actors. The great Brian Blessed has a field day with the boorish Squire Western. Frances de la Tour as his prune faced sister doesn't erase memories of Dame Edith Evans from the movie version, but she is very convincing nonetheless. James D'Arcy's Mr. Blifil is a brilliant, consistant job of careful, understated, contrived villainy. And Lindsy Duncan is a revelation as the evil Lady Balleston. Joan Greenwood is not nearly slimey enough in the movie version. Duncan manages to outdo Glenn Closes's sensual depravity in Dangerous Liaisons.
Max Beesley doesn't mug his way through the role like Albert Finney did. He plays Tom as more of the Candide-like innocent and is all the more attractive and sympathetic because of it. Samantha Morton's Sophia is simply unbelievable. She has a wide emotional range throughout the story and plays each moment to near perfection. She also exudes more capricious youthfulness than did Susannah York in the movie. The large supporting cast is excellent; not a weak performance among them.
I must also mention the delightful musical score by Jim Parker that adds to the movie's entertaining virtues.
Yes, the Tony Richardson won't Best Picture at the Oscars. But frankly, it's looking very dated these days. To be sure, it has it's wonderful moments, but it is far superceded by the newer effort.
So thank God for the BBC and A & E who continue to bring us classics like this in versions far more lucid than Hollywood could muster. Don't be swayed by Julie on the title page. This is a clear winner!
I loved this miniseries and went out and bought it. It's extremely true to Fielding's style and philosophy, and I've always been a big fan of Fielding. I think it's far superior to Tony Richardson's version, in which Albert Finney was just too old to play this part. I think Max Beesley achieves the mix of innocence, good-heartedness and sensuality that Tom must have. I also think Samantha Morton walks the line between showing Sophia's dutiful side and the explosive temper that she inherited from her father, Squire Western. It's a lot of fun.
This was an excellent adaptation of Tom Jones. Far more accurate to the book than the 1963 version with Finney (although the mere length of this movie ought to have given that away) I think A&E used this movie to get back on track after producing the far from enjoyable Emma and Jane Eyre. Max and Samantha went great together, and the supporting cast was fabulous.Brian Blessed is a PERFECT Squire Weston! I am writing this is because this movie has an excellent rating, and deserves a user comment appropriate to the average person's opinion of it.
I saw this when it was first shown in the UK in 97 and I still love it. It was amazing - fun, gripping, well acted. I fell in love with Max Beesley and it even made me want to read the book. I cannot see how anybody could not get dragged into the great plot and the wonderful acting, music and camera work. Well done, BBC!
The BBC and A&E have done it again. TOM JONES is intricate, daring, surprising, funny, and has more fresh air than one might expect of a literary adaptation. Brian Blessed is a revelation as Squire Western, looking more like a Hogarth caricature than seems humanly possible. The rest of the cast are energetic and well-suited to their roles, and the result, at five hours, will surprise many who only know the rascal Tom Jones from the Albert Finney film... There's a lot that that short movie left out, and it will at times remind you of Dangerous Liaisons...which of course was written later... Anyone want to bet that Choderlos de Laclos read Fielding?
Other posters have stated that the Finney version of this story is the
I wholeheartedly disagree. This story, as with most of Henry Fielding's stories, is intended as a parody of English 'morality' in his day. The Finney version is a lot of fun, but it's just a film about silly people wandering the countryside. In the A&E version, Brian Blessed performed his character (Mr. Western) in exactly the over-the-top correct way to ridicule the English wealthy. Mr. Allworthy was absolutely perfect as someone who believes that since he is a good honest man, the rest of the world must be good and honest as well. Tom's aunt has the line that in my opinion sums up the meaning of this book/movie (paraphrased), "It is not enough that your actions are good, you must make sure that they appear to be so."
We had the video box set since it first came out -- it was sealed and in our video drawer until this month (December, 2002), when I sold the videos and bought the DVD box set.
I can't believe we waited this long to watch it! Max Beasley is wonderful (and yes, a real Ewan MacGregor look-a-like) as is Samantha Morton and the rest of the cast.
The Oscar-winning 1963 version seems dated and over-the-top compared to the A&E production. Bawdy, racy, all the things Fielding's novel was criticized for, that all remains. It's surprisingly funny and sweet and very, very enjoyable!
I was looking for an earlier version of this movie because I saw it
mentioned in an article in Vogue (about a designer, I think it was Diane
Faustenberg, who modeled her wedding on this movie) and got the impression
that it would have beautiful costumes. I rented this version without
realizing it was the wrong one but I was not entirely disappointed.
The costumes were okay but it was the story I loved. It is such an interesting and engaging story and the acting was good. I couldn't wait to see what else could happen to poor Tom Jones next. I thought that Honor, the lady's maid was an exceptionally entertaining true character and that Benjamin Whitrow as the good squire was totally believable, he was the personification of a good sober man. The movie is long but I couldn't tear myself away from it. In a world of movies with weak plots this movie was hearty as stew. I'm going to try to find the 1960's version too.
My Development of the Novel class (a senior level class) watched this
adaptation of the novel and found it delightful and enlightening. The
was held during spring quarter after lunch. Even people who normally
class on Friday (spring fever, you know) came just to watch Tom Jones.
The costumes were excellent! Honour's and Squire Western's characters in particular were over the top (left visible toothmarks on the scenery), but since this falls into the comedy category it all fits.
I'd highly recommend this for serious literature students as well as for those who have no patience with the written word.
I am indeed a big fan of these screen adaptations of classic old
novels. And this is just another great series that I have come across.
"The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" tells a wonderful story that is lovable and highly entertaining. It is typical enough to make you love and sympathize with the heroes, and at the same time hate the devilish villains, but with enough subplots to keep the story interesting and keep you wondering what's going to happen next.
The actor, Max Beesley, who at the first time was just a newcomer, did the best job anyone could ever have done for the character. Other actors brought much delight and joy to the story. The characters were intelligently created, both leads and minors, and they were all interpreted so well by a talented cast.
Let's see....if you love the old-traditional British story with just enough laughs and dramas, something that will leave you with a good feeling in the end and a story that you would want to watch again and again, then this is definitely the right choice for you!
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