A rollicking comedic condensation of Fielding's sprawling novel about a lusty young man's adventures in 18th-Century England, TOM JONES was an enormous box office success that won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Direction, and Best Score.
Featuring superb performances from Albert Finney and Susannah York and marking the film debut of Lynn Redgrave, TOM JONES is a brilliant melding of naturalistic 18th-Century backgrounds with frantic, Keystone Kops-style slapstick and silent film devices like undercranking, titles, wipes,
stop-motion photography, etc. Cutting down and molding Fielding's huge 1749 episodic novel was a gargantuan task. Screenwriter Osborne, best known for social realist works like LOOK BACK IN ANGER, may have seemed an odd choice (Richardson and Osborne were both from the "Angry Young Man" school),
but he succeeded beyond all expectations.
Several set pieces stand out in memory: the huge stag hunt at the estate of Griffith; the Georges Feydeau-style bedroom farce at the inn; but, most of all, the famous Redman-Finney scene which, while it shows nothing sexual--just two people staring into each others' eyes as they rip food apart and
stuff it in their faces--remains among the most cheekily erotic few minutes in cinema. The other achievement of TOM JONES was that it put Fielding's novel back onto the best-seller lists, more than two centuries after it was published.
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