Tom Jones (1963) Poster

(1963)

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Lyric beauty, bawdy humor and adventure set to celluloid and music.
H.J.30 August 1999
In 1963 two of the most important productions in the history of movie making were released. The first was: "Cleopatra" with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, a cast as long as the Manhattan telephone directory and a budget bigger than the combined egos of the stars. "Cleopatra" was a total disaster. It has no redeeming quality that I know of. It is therefore important for embodying in one film, nearly everything that you can do wrong in making a movie. It is a movie that you must see if you are ever to understand what a truly good film really is. The second was: "Tom Jones" with Albert Finney and Susannah York, shot with rented equipment and costumes on the streets of London with a supporting cast of brilliant British ensemble players and extras who stood-in just to get in a film. Tom Jones is simply one of the best motion pictures of all time, for my money, The Best from Literature.

John Osborne who wrote the screen play produced a marvelous vehicle, but the genius of "Tom Jones" is Tony Richardson. He moves the actors and the story about the screen with a bawdy grace and earthy gentility that paints action and raucous laughter and beauty across one another with an even hand. It is a glimpse of antiquity so close and real that we can nearly touch it, and it makes us want to. (Though to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we'd care for the smell of it.)

"Tom Jones" is a low budget, low tech, high quality film that must win the award for the "Most with the Least." The photography is beautiful, not because it used a dozen half million dollar cameras, it is beautiful because it is good photography. The acting wins out, and casts of thousands would only serve to clutter the stage. See this film whenever, wherever and as often as you possibly can.
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10/10
it gives the sense of the joy of living through the movie media at the highest level
bernie-4210 April 1999
"Tom Jones" is a movie adaptation of the classic Eighteenth century novel masterpiece of Henry Fielding made up by the greatest contemporary British playwriter John Osborne and directed by one of the main film directors of English Free Cinema, Tony Richardson. This film came at end of this golden period of the English Cinema in the sixties and it is the highest moment of this cinema. "Tom Jones" shows in the person of Tom Jones (the masterly Albert Finney) the point of view of the angry young man looking to the stupidity and the hypocrisies of the Eighteenth century society, which resembles our times. It is not at all just a funny film, even if some scenes are extremely funny and are some classics in the history of cinema, famous like the one in which Tom eating a rich supper with his woman is really looking like eating her with the eyes. "Tom Jones" is the adventurous hystory of a modern hero, who finally conquers his true love, after any kind of trouble. This is an highly cinematographic film, e.g. the movement of the camera gives itself the idea of happiness in the scenes of love in the country of Tom and Sophie (the beautiful and greatest Susannah York), the drama of the situation in which Tom risk to be hanged or the funniness in the bawdy scenes in the inn. In the beginning the film even outlines the beginning of the complex story using even the style of the silent cinema...Tom Jones/Albert Finney even also speaks directly to the public of the film reaching with his greatest originality an extreme level of funniness and pleasantness. The photography of the film resembles with its colours and views the landscapes of English painting of the Eighteenth century, like in Hogarth's pictures. The fox hunting scene is pictorially beautiful. The actors are all the best of the English theatre of that period and playing at their best, where theatre is so important and lively in England. Concluding, a film that gives the sense of the joy of living through the movie media at the highest level, it's a must to see even only this film, a masterpiece of the forgotten but greatest English film director, Tony Richardson. As Giancarlo Grazzini, the greatest Italian cinematographic critic of that time, wrote, it was the best film presented at the Film Festival of Venice, worthy of winning also the Golden Lion there and not just the Oscars!
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9/10
Wonderful, even 37 years later
kadar4 January 2004
This was a great film in its time, and is still a great one today. Well-directed, well-acted, well-shot, great soundtrack, and based on a splendid literary vehicle.

It's frustrating to see so much uninformed voting and so many uninformed remarks on this otherwise wonderful site; I guess its inevitable since anyone can post anything. But I would like to point out that Tom Jones did not sleep with his mother as erroneously alleged, and that Albert Finney, 26 or 27 years old at the time of shooting this film, clearly did not look too old for his part.

I haven't read the book(s), but from the film it's obvious that Dickens was much indebted to Fielding, using his amazing invention as a convoluted plot model (and perhaps a character-naming model) for many of his works.

Go rent this film after seeing Finney in the currently playing Big Fish -- it's great to see him do so well in such very different films made in different millenia, nearly a full professional lifetime apart.
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One of the greatest farces of all time
eunice-429 April 2000
Tome Jones came out of the wonderful 60's when all the stuffy conventions of British theater, film and music were turned upside down. I first saw this film while stationed in Wiltshire in the Royal Air Force, and having grown up in the industrial West Riding of Yorkshire, my eyes had only recently been opened to the staggering beauty of the English countryside.

Tom Jones represented that unspoiled English countryside to me. I could smell the hay, the wildflowers and the livestock. Never mind that unless you were rich it was serf labor, I saw England through a wonderful fantasy of a film. The action never stopped. This movie was just hilarious from beginning to end. No glossing over the crude realities of country life - this was a period when the poor folk shared their hovels with the chickens and other small animals, when sex was raw, albeit punished on Sundays, and when the local gentry had their way with the wenches.

Rarely has there been such a belly laugh of a movie. Laugh until the tears roll down your face.
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10/10
I fell off my chair!
Wiebke5 September 2000
While my mother claims this is a "guy movie," I'm not a guy and find it one of the funniest, most charming movies ever made. The narration, music and just plain spunky tone of this movie makes it a unique piece -- you really DO have to see it to understand what it's all about! I highly recommend this movie -- as well as the book, which was published in 1749 but is just as funny today and highly readable, not "quaint" at all!
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Stand and Deliver!
dragon-908 July 2000
A fun and fresh screen adaption of British writer Henry Fielding's 18th Century novel of the same name, made at the threshold of the swinging (19)Sixties. Like the original story's French counterpart (Les Liaisons Dangereuses=Dangerous Liaisons), at its heart is a mannered metropolitan love triangle.

But before we arrive in the heart of London the stage is set amidst the lush green English countryside in Summer. Here we first meet the protagonist, Tom Jones, played by Albert Finney in his most youthful bloom, and his extended family representing every facet of post-Glorious Revolution England.

An incorrigible ne'er-do-well, Tom's genuine love for his neighbor Squire Alworthy's daughter Sophie (a very lovely Susannah York), takes him to the heart of fashionable London society in a series of comedic wrong-turns and misunderstandings. Here he becomes embroiled in the games of the jaded aristocrat Lady Bellaston played by Joan Greenwood. Greenwood steals the show as the original Mrs. Robinson and, through her machinations, Tom is led to the gallows. But at the last minute...

Throughout the movie is paced with a modern sense of realism, made effective by hand-held camera sequences and the quick editing of Antony Gibbs. Old-fashioned film techniques are used effectively with eye-to-the-camera realism, and convey an up-to-date feel. There are moments of beauty as well as comedy in this very satisfying entertainment. The cast is stellar with many familiar names--Hugh Griffith, Rachel Kempson, David Warner (in his first movie), the settings realistic, and the the musical score a perfect fit. A great time overall!

An interesting note, supposedly this is the last movie seen by John F. Kennedy (in a White House screening) before he was assassinated.
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7/10
Magnificent movie with four deserved Academy Award winner
ma-cortes19 November 2005
Tom Jones (Albert Finney) is a 18th century orphan who is adopted by an aristocrat but he lives his own life in mirth and freedom . The philander English lad has good heart and affinity for troubles and an eye for the ladies , confronting amorous and bawdy adventures . His true love is Sophie (Susannah York) , the daughter of a higher-class rich owner (Hugh Griffith).

The picture is a lavish rendition of a classic novel written by Henry Fielding with lots of entertainment and fun . It is plenty of satire , irony , comedy , tongue-in-cheek and amusement . Nice acting by Albert Finney ; however , he felt the lead role wasn't serious enough, and agreed to star only if he got a producing credit ; he later traded the credit for profit participation . Very good support cast gives splendid acting . Feature film debut for David Warner , Julian Glover and Lynn Redgrave . Lively and jolly soundtrack by John Addison , author of numerous classic scores of the English Free Cinema . The film was very well directed by Tony Richardson who in 1977 made an attempt to return with similar character -Joseph Andrews- but the freshness , inspiration and magic had gone . It is followed by a sequel -The bawdy adventures of Tom Jones- an exploitive extension directed by Cliff Owen with Arthur Lowe , Joan Collins and Trevor Howard . Tom Jones picture was undoubtedly the biggest year . The film obtained Academy Awards in 1963 to best film for United Artists , Director -Tony Richardson- , adapted screenplay -John Osborne- and original music -John Addison- and was nominated : Albert Finney , Hugh Griffith , Diane Cilento , Joyce Redman and Edith Evans by their robustly agreeable characterization . Well worth watching.
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10/10
one of my personal favorites
karnblaine15 July 2005
If you cannot enjoy this movie, you have no relish for life and comedy and the human spirit. Albert Finney and Suzannah York are a delightful couple as Tom and his one love Sophie. One of the great things about the movie is the comments to the audience by Tom. The technique is not new (see The Road Movies), but it is used to great comic effect. And the voice-over narrator enhances all the action. If you don't know the story, Tom Jones is about a 'bastard' boy trying to make his way in the 1700's world of England. The story is delightful through, with the requisite villains, 'fallen' and lusty women, sword fights and some amazing coincidences. Everything about the movie is delightful, with great production values and an excellent cast. If you haven't seen this movie, please do so. I don't see how you can not enjoy it from beginning to end.
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8/10
Thirty Seven years later.......it remains a splendid piece of art
khatcher-227 December 2000
Just two hundred years after Henry Fielding's novel appeared, the theatre-actor-turned-cinema-director Sir Tony Richardson rounded up a few Shakespearean-trained prodigees, got John Addison to compose hectic clavichord accompaniment a little in the style of Handel operas and set all this against lush photography to produce one of the most hilarious films of the last five hundred years. Fielding's novel – which is a most definite recommendation – rather cynically but good-humouredly exposed mid-eighteenth century British hypocrisy at its best and the landed gentry's obsession for fox-hunting at its worst. Richardson directed all this a bit like an elderly Sir Thomas Beecham ('the important thing is we all start and stop together; nobody notices what happens in between') raising his baton in front of the London Symphony Orchestra: the result in both cases is astounding. Richardson conducts his piece at a tremendous pace, Addison's clavichord tripping along gaily so as to keep up the illusion, and visual sequences such as a young trouserless Albert Finney escaping out of a window, shinning down a tree and running off into the nocturnal depths of a beech forest, all combine to keep you breathlessly awaiting the next scene. Susannah York is just delicious, with that innocent facial beauty that raises heartbeats, especially in the latter parts; and Angela Baddely as Mrs. Wilkins and Diane Cilento as Molly play some great scenes. And some of the great scenes are worth telling...... Tom and Mrs. Wilkins enjoy a good roast with fruit, eating lusciously and lascivously, eating each other up with their sparkling eyes: this scene is hugely delightful. The other great scene is the fox-hunt: this alone puts the whole film into a special category: brilliant film-making, almost comparable to the famous chariot race in Ben Hur........ I loved this film 37 years ago, and recently had the luck to see it again: having doubled my years, I was just as enthralled and enraptured as the first time. A splendid piece of art.
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9/10
A New Sense of Moderism
RARubin6 April 2005
This is an adaptation of a large book, a Henry Fielding novel. In the early 1700's the growing middle class in Europe, especially in the British Empire, became literate. As an entertainment to get through the long hours of new leisure, novels flew from the printing presses. Tom Jones was a hit from the first. It was a bawdy tale with amusing detail. It is lucky that an experienced playwright like John Osborne was assigned the screenplay and double lucky that a fine director, Tony Richardson brought the tale to life.

Indeed, Richardson is a poet with the lush English countryside. Since much of the film depicts Tom Jones' amorous adventures in the grass with Molly Seagram, the peasant wench, on a skiff with the Squire's daughter, Sophie, in the tavern with Mrs.Wilkens, and in the suites of a countess, the bawdy adventures spin by as food shoots from the mouths of lovers. There are also duels, a misunderstanding about the linage of the Jones baby, and an unwanted suitor for the lovely Sophie, Susan York.

I saw this film as a teen in 1963 and it telegraphed a new sense of modernism and sexual freedom without pretense that is ironic since Fielding's story was hundreds of years old on the eve of the Beatles and the swinging London of the 60's.
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10/10
I love this movie
billpappas-12 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
How do they do it? The casting was perfection. Albert Finney and Suzanna York were great. But, then, Hugh Griffith, Joan Greenwood, the guy who played Mr. Blifil, the wenches, the men who were out to get Tom Jones could not have been played any better by anyone else. Each scene, while keeping the plot going at a rapid pace, was complete and a delight to watch all by itself. What I really loved about the deer hunt besides the beauty of the English countryside and the aerial shots was the whooping and yelling of the riders, dogs barking and hooves pounding. It seemed much wilder and less elegant than the fancy fox hunts we've seen in more contemporary films. I was almost out of breath by the end.

A movie like this I can watch over and over for the performances and the beauty of the direction even though I know the plot by heart. It's like listening to a favorite song by a great artist. I wish I could have been on the set to watch the fun in person. How do the people who make these wonderful types of movies walk away from them at the completion without feeling sad that they are over?
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One of the funniest ever.
marbleindex15 February 2004
I find it almost impossible to believe that there are people out there that did not find movie hilarious. There are so many memorable scenes, so many wonderful lines and such great acting! This is easily one of the most entertaining movies I've ever seen, and definitely the most entertaining British film. It gets a perfect 10.
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9/10
Delightful
kenjha18 May 2006
Finney is terrific as Fielding's fun-loving, irresponsible hero, and is ably supported by a game cast. Richardson's direction is wonderfully inventive, using all kinds of cinematic tricks to make the story come alive. The asides to the viewers are hilarious, as in the blithe shrug Mrs. Waters gives to the audience when she is told that the man she bedded may be her long-lost son. The first half hour or so is rather uninvolving but things really get going with the exciting deer hunting scene. The sensual and funny dinner scene between Tom and Mrs. Waters is justly famous. The score by John Addison perfectly complements the lunacy.
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Horse Play
tedg30 April 2005
This was the period when French New Wave was supposedly reinventing cinema. Unfortunately, the French could only do so by citing Hollywood forms (mostly gangsters) and placing them in new contexts. That left lots of room for an intelligent Hollywood project to best them by exploiting itself. So much more could be done.

The rough form would be a contrast between the refined and the uncouth, between disciplined manner and unbridled lust, between old Hollywood presentation and the new. Thus, the uncouth merges with sex and the presentation used here.

That presentation form is at once hyperrealistic — hand-held verity, engagement with running horses, A specific film joke where Tom and Sophie follow each other riding animals, widely varying lighting schemes using found light, frequent direct dialog with the audience — and highly stylized "old" stuff: swordfights, wellworn plot closures, a typical love story but where the girl is halfway in the old and new worlds.

Make no mistake: the star of this is Suzanna York as our surrogate. Will we embrace this new manner of film-making, directly sensual and "real?" Of course we do, as much as no woman can refuse Tom

No serious watcher of film can omit this from their schedule. And it needs to be followed by "Barry Lyndon," and "Sex and Lucia."

Kubrick's project took this same story from the other side, the refined one. Its cinematography is lush and precise. But the project is one that contrasts nature (rather than raw sex acts) with foppish aristocracy (rather than general city society). But the intent is the same, to charm through images, just in Kubrick's case the images are aristocratic.

Medem's project is much more sophisticated, switching the dial so that the sex/repress, country/city, realistic/stylized image contrast is between experienced truth and written truth. But the same noir-like capricious fate is at work through copulation in Lucia as in Tom. The same idea as targeted woman, lovely desirable woman as the viewer's surrogate (and judge).

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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10/10
A Goof in Tom Jones
jrd002214 October 2005
I am another viewer who saw the movie in a theater in 1963 and just today saw the video, 42 years later. It was just as hilarious to a viewer in his late eighties as to one in his forties. It was pleasant to see it on a big screen, via video projector with a group of friends, rather than on the small screen at home. I came right home and looked in IMDb to see if anyone had noticed what I thought was an anachronistic goof. Did you?

As the hunters in the fox hunt rode down a dirt road (in about 1775), I thought that the road ahead of the horses looked very much to contain automobile tire tracks! Does anyone agree, or think that my eyes deceived me? jrd0022
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9/10
A Randy Film, From A Ribald Book, For A Bawdy Age
bkoganbing8 February 2009
A thorough adaption of Henry Fielding's novel would require a mini-series which the work later got for television. But John Osborne's adapted screenplay for which he won an Oscar captures the right spirit of the ribald and rollicking novel of the mid eighteenth century in Great Britain.

It was one bawdy age, the dissolute courts of the first two kings named George set the tone for British society at the time. The title character played by Albert Finney is a young man of questionable origins, illegitimate no doubt who wants the love of young Susanah York, but will settle in a pinch for any and all of the other women who can't seem to help throwing themselves at him.

Finney as an infant makes his introduction into the world by being found on Squire Allworthy's bed, planted there as it were with no clue to his origins. The Squire played by George Devine thinks that servants Joyce Redmon and Jack McGowran are the responsible parties and he banishes them both. But keeps the infant to raise in his household.

Finney grows up to be a likable young lad who holds a great attraction for anyone of the female persuasion. Even the neighboring squire Hugh Griffith likes him, but not as a suitable husband for his daughter Ms. York.

The story in many ways sets the tone for the novels of Charles Dickens, many of which concerned young men like Tom Jones, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, Young Pip in Great Expectations, who seek the meaning of their origins. But Fielding was writing for a public that had a lot less of a sense of decorum than Dickens's readers were. I doubt Charles Dickens could have gotten his work published if they had been as naughty as Fielding's.

Director Tony Richardson really captures the look of 18th century Great Britain, no doubt part of why he was named Best Director and Tom Jones awarded Best Picture of 1963. Albert Finney got an Oscar nomination, but lost to Sidney Poitier for Lillies of the Field. Hugh Griffith was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but he lost to Melvyn Douglas for Hud. It probably didn't help Griffith that he already had won one for Ben-Hur. And Diane Cilento as the town tart, Dame Edith Evans as Griffith's sister, and Joyce Redmon were all nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Three British women lost to a fourth however as Margaret Rutherford trundled up the middle with her performance in The VIPs.

Back in the day I remember seeing Hedda Hopper on Art Linkletter's House Party show and she was asked about her upcoming Oscar predictions. Hedda surprised me and everyone else by saying that she loved Tom Jones and said it was going to win everything it was nominated for. It didn't quite do that, but it certainly was successful in getting those gold statues. That the conservative Hedda Hopper would champion a film like Tom Jones was the surprise. But I guess Hedda knew times were a changing.

Now I suspect a lot more skin would be shown in a remake of this film. Yet Tom Jones will always have a lot of randy charm about the movie. It's one for the ages.
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2/10
In a word: "Illegitimate"
majikstl5 September 2007
TOM JONES may not be the worst movie to take home the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, but it certainly is in the running for being the most ineptly directed. Tiresomely clumsy and terminally long-winded, this so-called rollicking comedy barely merits a legitimate smile, let alone any laugh-out-loud moments of glee. Under Tony Richardson's amateurish direction, the film suffers from having little sense of comic timing, a lack of the astute use of editing or camera placement or even the slightest hint that the famed director had ever been behind a camera before.

It is easy to see what Richardson was going for; he wanted to cut the historical epic as a genre down to size. The austere, pretentious, pompous Hollywood-style history lessons that were once a staple -- and a symbol of what in Hollywood passed for class -- were often humorless and self-aware of just how "important" they were. With actors giving solemn, coldly pious performances, the characters they played were placed on pedestals as being morally and intellectually superior to the commoners who served them -- and who sat in the audience watching. TOM JONES' purpose -- if indeed it has a purpose -- is to show that the nobility was no better than the peasant class -- other than maybe having lived in a slightly better quality of squalor.

So be it -- but by the same token, big deal! The tendency of the movies to alternately worship and mock the rich and powerful has always been a given. There isn't much here that hadn't already been made fun of before (and better) in the period parodies made by Danny Kaye or Bob Hope. Or for that matter, the Three Stooges. The best you can give TOM JONES credit for is being a forerunner of the snob-and-slob comedies of later generations; move the story to contemporary Beverly Hills and cast some refugee from "Saturday Night Live" in the Jones part and you'll have a modern day CADDYSHACK. I mean is Hugh Griffith's over-the-top vulgar nobleman really much different from the below-the-belt nouveau riche vulgarians that made up Rodney Dangerfield's film career?

The simple-minded attack on the upper class is nothing new or different, but that wouldn't matter if the film itself were, well, funny. It's story is the standard picaresque adventures of a young rogue's life among his social betters -- jazzed up with all the cheap sexual innuendoes, mistaken identities and misunderstandings that farce requires. For the most part, the film seems to be a desperate attempt to blend the gritty realism of the various European "new waves" with the orchestrated anarchy of the Marx Bros. -- while not succeeding at doing justice to either. It is like a rough cut made up of poorly chosen outtakes; instead of a work of slick, carefully crafted chaos, it is comprised of one poorly staged scene after another, a soundtrack of disconnected voices and a droning narration that always seems to be describing missing material. Impressed with Richardson's use of silent movie gimmicks (title cards, speeded up action, iris fade outs, etc.), the film critics of the time lavished the film with praise for being new and fresh -- by using tricks that even then were old and cliché!

The cast of distinguished British stage notables tend to mug for the camera as if they were in a Jerry Lewis movie. Even Albert Finney in the title role fails to give any real performance, his character is jerked from scene to scene by circumstance rather than by dramatic motivation. Indeed, lovingly photographed as though he were in a spread for a fashion magazine, Finney has never looked so unrelentingly handsome and dashing -- and, yet, been so vacuously lacking in personality. Amoral and callow, there is little reason to care for Jones' fate other than the fact that he is so gosh-darn pretty.

Even granting that 1963 was a remarkably weak year for movies, TOM JONES' winning of the Oscar (among several other prestigious awards) is a puzzlement. These things rarely go to comedies, unless it is perceived that they somehow represent something groundbreaking (like ANNIE HALL or AMERlCAN BEAUTY). Yet, even if TOM JONES was seen as some sort of bold departure from the norm, it didn't stop the Academy from soon going back to form and giving their top prize to such stiff, shallow and self-important historical epics as A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, GANDHI, THE LAST EMPEROR, THE ENGLlSH PATIENT, BRAVEHEART and GLADIATOR -- all of which carry at least some glimmer of high-tone British superiority. So I suppose that even the thinnest patina of British class somehow, in their eyes, raised this low-brow mess to the level of high-brow social commentary. Or worse, art.
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Simply, a masterpiece.
alan99717 August 2016
Mostly the reviews on IMDb can be relied on, but sometimes they just make no sense. Over upwards of a decade and many hundreds of visits I can recall no starker illustration than the truly unbelievable 6.8 given to Tom Jones. It is, simply, a masterpiece.

A brilliant story at the heart of it, of course, but brought to life with fantastic, innovative direction, including affectionate nods to the silents, extraordinary action sequences, unsurpassed breaches of the fourth wall ("Did you see her take it?"), uncommon acknowledgements of some of the grimmer realities of the era, and tour de force performances from the entire cast (who clearly relished every minute), centred of course on the sublime Albert Finney - one of the greats, never better - and the heart-stoppingly gorgeous Susannah York.

Tom Jones is one of the ultimate explorations and illustrations of the full potential of the medium: movies don't get better than this. Anyone who contributed to that risible score should hang their head in shame. Anyone else, watch Tom Jones. Then watch it again. And again.
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10/10
Guffaws galore
rpvanderlinden15 February 2014
I managed to get into the theatre to see "Tom Jones" when I was a tender 16-year-old (the film got an "R" rating in Ontario). It was and remains at the zenith of my movie-going experiences. The theatre was packed and the reaction of the audience to the movie gives new meaning to the words "guffawing" and "rolling in the aisles" and "rollicking".

"Tom Jones" came out at the height of the British New Wave. It eschews impeccably grand and fussy shots of stately mansions and serene crowds in favour of wildness and chaos. It plunks the camera in the mud with the pigs, plays peek-a-boo with the ladies' bosoms (the elderly Dame Edith Evans, thwacking the hogs with her parasol, her own breasts seemingly in danger of popping out of her bodice, is a sight to behold!), and completely thwarts our expectations of how a period piece should play. Masterpiece Theatre this is not. I doubt that Tony Richardson ever made a better - or more robust - movie.

Yet, in spite of its satirical bent, there's not a mean bone in its body. It displays the ugliness, dangers and unfairness of the society it's portraying (I noticed, at the time, that British cinema was largely about class), but "Tom Jones" won my heart because it does so much more. It's full of joy, hope and optimism, and it's a celebration of love, life and youth. It makes me feel young again.
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6/10
Not All It's Cracked Up To Be
Dan1863Sickles24 February 2006
I understand why this movie is called a classic. The camera work is dazzling and fresh, sweeping away all the stodginess of a period picture. The cast is attractive, cheerful, and plainly having the time of their lives. The direction makes it easy to laugh along and get caught up in the sheer sexual charisma of Tom Jones' personality.

But personally, as an English major who really treasured the book, I find that this movie is not all it's cracked up to be. It plays up all of Tom's worst qualities -- his lustfulness, the impulsive and almost infantile side of his personality -- and plays down all of his loyalty, courage, and higher feelings. This movie was "influential" for the rest of the Sixties, and in all the wrong ways.

Tom was the first "anti-hero" in Sixties film, a guy who is good looking and sexy but not especially brave or clever or even kind. Note again that this was NOT Fielding's intent. In the novel, he says explicitly that Tom "is as much a Hercules as an Adonis" meaning that he is a real hero, who fights for right, not just a lover boy. But this movie plays Tom's fist fight scenes strictly for laughs, as if to say courage and manhood are "out" and getting by on sheer charm is "in." Not to carry it too far, but you can draw a straight line from this vision of Tom Jones to the increasingly repulsive "anti-heroes" who followed later in the decade. They range from the ultra-violent Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE to the cowardly Indian warrior in LITTLE BIG MAN to the criminal Michael in THE GODFATHER.

What's missing from the film -- but not the book -- is any sense that Tom really loves Sophia, or that he learns from his adventures and becomes more worthy, more manly, at the end. The book takes the idea of choice and responsibility seriously, the movie just laughs it off. Not surprisingly, Tom's love affair with Lady Bellaston comes off differently as well. Casting the exquisite and sultry Joan Greenwood as Lady Bellaston was delightful, but wrong. In the book she is a fat, dumpy old hag who buys Tom and tries to corrupt him. In the movie she is a stunning older swinger who indulges him just for the fun of it. Sure it's sexy to watch -- really sexy. But what does it prove? Nothing. Tom doesn't resist temptation, he isn't punished, and he doesn't grow. It's the infantile approach that was to become all to popular during the "idealistic" sixties.
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9/10
Worth Seeing
snagleywhiplash4 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Beautifully filmed, marvelously acted but since it's a farce there's little doubt about how things will eventually turn out, and given that, it lags in parts and could have benefited by better editing. Having said that, still a rare treat!

The leads, Finney and York are fine, but it's the supporting cast that steal the show! John Osbourne stuck close to the novel and the sumptuous photography and little details (hardly a scene in the countryside lacks a stray dog or a hen, urban scenes reflect the squalor of 17th Century London) impart a strong sense of place.

But again, the overall spriteliness wears a little thin over the length of the film. It's still a worthwhile experience! Enjoy!
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5/10
This was so NOT the best movie of 1963.
lee_eisenberg7 January 2016
To people in the 21st century, the name Tom Jones brings to mind the singer of songs like "It's Not Unusual", and maybe also Tommy Lee Jones. Tony Richardson's "Tom Jones" has nothing to do with either of them. It was apparently intended as an indictment of the British aristocracy's hypocrisy. It comes across more as a romantic comedy. But most importantly, contrary to its Oscar wins it was far from the year's best movie. Nineteen sixty-three gave us movies like "The Birds" (the ultimate Hitchcock movie), "Hud" (a look at alienation), "Lilies of the Field" (a call for tolerance), "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (a hilarious indictment of greed) and "Charade" (one of the cleverest thrillers of all time).

A line that caught my attention was during the dinner. Tom says something to the effect of "A person can be uneducated and know a lot, and a person can be educated and know nothing." For proof that the second part is true, I submit as evidence George W. Bush and Prince Charles.

And now the cast. Albert Finney we all know. Susannah York is a hottie here; her most significant role was in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?". Diane Cilento was married to Sean Connery at this time. David Tomlinson is best know as George Banks in "Mary Poppins". Jack MacGowran played the alcoholic director in "The Exorcist". Peter Bull played the Soviet ambassador in "Dr. Strangelove" (so naturally, I told his character here not to fight in the war room). Julian Glover later played Donovan in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and later played Grand Master Pycelle on "Game of Thrones". And of course, Lynn Redgrave was director Tony Richardson's sister-in-law.

As for Tony Richardson, his best movie that I've seen was the posthumously released "Blue Sky", which won Jessica Lange a Best Actress Oscar. Richardson hadn't publicly acknowledged his bisexuality until he contracted AIDS, which eventually killed him. Due to Orion Pictures's bankruptcy, "Blue Sky" sat on the shelf for three years.

In conclusion, "Tom Jones" is a movie that will probably draw more than a few MST3K-style comments. Although I will say that Susannah York probably had to beat guys off with a stick after appearing in this movie.
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2/10
A Clear Picture Of The Garbage To Come
ccthemovieman-13 September 2006
The fact that this won four Oscars including best picture tells you how Hollywood was well on its way down the dumper, which was fully flushed down the drain about five years after this trash came out. A big part of the reason this was given such prestigious honors was it dared "push the envelope." Soon, the Hollywood would be "free" to give us about all the profanity, nudity and sex people would want. This movie - and Best Picture Award - helped set the stage. (Didn't "Charade" come out in 1963? That movie lost out to this????!)

In this movie, the young man (Albert Finney) who screws anything that moves is the good guy while the uptight, nasty bad guy is, of course, the religious guy. How many times have we seen this bias?

Finney was so young looking, I didn't recognize him when I watched this film in the 90s, about 30 years after seeing it in the theater when it came out. Albert's voice didn't even sound the same.

This movie was supposed to be hilarious. It wasn't.
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1/10
How did this movie win "Best Picture"?
lococactus28 July 2006
It must have been a sorry year for movies if this horrible movie won "Best Picture". Cleopatra was not the greatest epic ever made but it is a heck of a lot better then this boring movie. I honestly tried to enjoy this movie but it was just soooo boring (and they try to pass this off as a comedy). I can see women enjoying his movie because of the romance factor and maybe in 1963 that was what was popular. I can not blame the love affair with this movie on drugs because the "flower generation" were still a few years in the future (maybe movies like this one sped up the quest for drugs). Honestly, I am baffled as to the allure of this movie. I just do not get it.
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1/10
Don;'t know what all the fuss is about
Joanalamode9 April 2006
For 37 years I have heard the name Tom Jones. The title comes up a lot, in review books, commentaries...and I have finally watched the movie and boy was I disappointed.

I almost felt like I was watching a College final thesis movie. What's bad? Hard to understand dialogue, been there done that plot, horrible cinematography and hype.

Redeeming qualities: Albert Finny looks his best. He has never been more handsome in a role. Susannah York, also beautiful. Great costumes and some authentic realistic scenes.

Overall I could not wait for the movie to end. Watch it on TV but don't purchase this one unless it's on a used VHS rack for .99!
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