Tom Jones (1963)

DailyView: Day 333, Movie 477

Continuing the previous Best Picture winners at the Academy Award section of the DailyView, I have come across a 1963 British comedy called Tom Jones, a film that I was unaware of and one starring Albert Finney.

Tom Jones (Albert Finney) was left as a baby in the care of Squire Allworthy (George Devine) by a woman claiming to be his mother, Jenny. Jones became a womanizer, troublemaker but roguishly beloved by many. Tom falls for Sophie Western (Susannah York) but his reputation and behavior causes Sophie’s father to refuse him.

First of all, the plot of this is fairly convoluted. Trying to keep track of the comings and goings around the story is difficult at best. However, Tom Jones, as played by Albert Finney, is charming and easy to like. He is a rapscallion and makes for a strong protagonist.

The film is very funny, filled with the typical British humor we would see in the time period. It is not quite as satiric as Monty Python comedy, but this most definitely has that feel to it. There are weird moments through the film, including some characters breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. When it happens with Lynn Redgrave near the end of the film, it was kind of jarring. There is a narrator telling us the story as the film progressed.

While I watched this Academy Award Best Picture winning movie, all I could think about was that this is the type of movie that would never win Best Picture today and, in fact, would never even be nominated. It astounds me that the Academy not only nominated this in 1963, but also decided that it was the best movie of the year. In fact, it won despite being in the same category as Lilies of the Field, Cleopatra and How the West Was Won. All three of those films would have a much more likely win with today’s Academy than Tom Jones would. I would like to see the Academy expand their thoughts on what a Best Picture is. Sure, they nominate 10 movies, but let’s face facts. Only about two or three have a reasonable chance of winning, and there are plenty of films that could have been nominated that are great but not considered “Oscar” movies.

Anyway, Tom Jones was fun and had some good moments. Albert Finney was very charismatic even within a story that was really messy. If you like British humor, you should enjoy Tom Jones.

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