1963 / UK / 128 min. / Colour
Director: Tony Richardson
Albert Finney, Susannah York, Hugh Griffith, Edith Evans, Joan Greenwood, Diane Cilento, George Devine, David Tomlinson
Our first foray into the underbelly of C.18th England may fairly be described as a romp – but what a romp! Definitely the cast of the Season and they have great fun with John Osborne’s clever adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel. The film’s most endearing feature is how it takes the tricks so often found in C.18th novels and transfers them to the screen – the opening is performed as a silent film; characters break the fourth wall (on one occasion Tom Jones notices the camera and coyly covers the lens with his hat); there is an unseen narrator voiced by Micheál Mac Liammóir; the film is punctuated by mock-serious commentaries deploring the behaviour of several characters and quite a lot more. It is all brilliantly done, hugely entertaining and then we get to the meal shared by Tom and Mrs Waters…eating asparagus will never feel quite the same again. This is intelligent, good-time comedy at its absolute best. No wonder the film was nominated for ten Oscars and won Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score. And the BFI thinks it’s the 51st greatest British film of the 20th Century. Sometimes they get it right.