Lady Booby alias "Belle" (Ann-Margret), the lively wife of the fat landed squire Sir Thomas Booby (Peter Bull), has a lusty eye on the attractive, intelligent villager Joseph Andrews (Peter...
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Lady Booby alias "Belle" (Ann-Margret), the lively wife of the fat landed squire Sir Thomas Booby (Peter Bull), has a lusty eye on the attractive, intelligent villager Joseph Andrews (Peter Firth), a Latin pupil and protégé of Parson Adams (Sir Michael Hordern), and makes him their footman. Joseph's heart belongs to a country girl, foundling Fanny Goodwill (Natalie Ogle), but his masters take him on a fashionable trip to Bath, where the spoiled society comes mainly to see and be seen, yet Sir Thomas really seeks relief for his sick foot, but drowns in the famous Roman baths. When the all but grieving lady finds Joseph's Christian virtue and true love resist her lusting passes just as well as the many ladies who fancy her footman, she fires the boy. On his way back on foot, he falls prey to highwaymen who rob him of everything, even the clothes on his back. He's found and nursed by an innkeeper's maid, which stirs lusts there, again besides his honorable conduct, but is found by the ...Written by
Another reviewer described Peter Firth in this film as "ludicrously pretty." It's not only true, but for a future film I'm going to reference that comment in describing Leif Garrett. But as for Joseph Andrews, Peter Firth's looks and innocence keep drawing women to him like flies to flypaper.
Peter Firth's been brought up by pious pastor Michael Hordern who is a throwback to the Puritans of the last century. He's definitely out of place in mid 18th century Great Britain, the age of Walpole and the first two Hanoverian Georges were ones in which they believed in let the good times roll. Peter's spotted by Ann-Margret wife of fat nobleman Peter Bull who thinks he'd make an excellent footman and of course she has other things in mind. Especially after Bull expires in an old Roman bath that the gentry of Hanoverian Great Britain have revived the custom of.
Firth's got every woman in the cast chasing him, but he wants to stay virtuous and save himself for his true love Natalie Ogle. That proves close to impossible, in the meantime everyone is envying his good luck with the ladies.
Tony Richardson who directed Tom Jones fourteen years earlier to an Academy Award for Best Picture brings the same eye for detail to the sets and costuming and atmosphere of the same era that Henry Fielding was writing about. The two in the cast I love are Beryl Reid with that wonderful Dickensian name of Mrs. Slipslop and Ann-Margret as Lady Booby who does more than hold her own with the British cast. Bridging the two Fielding/Richardson collaborations is Hugh Griffith who returns briefly in this film in his role as Squire Western from Tom Jones.
Joseph Andrews for reasons I can't explain is unjustly overlooked and critics seem to say Richardson was just trying to recreate Tom Jones again. Considering it's the same source that gave us Tom Jones that charge is ridiculous. Joseph Andrews has enough merit to stand on its own and should be seen and recognized for the fine film it is.
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