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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tom Jones (1963)

Henry Fielding had written a classic novel, called 'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling' way back in 1749. The story of an illegitimate man, his love, his relationship with others, the hatred towards him by a rival, and how he gets saved right in the nick of time near the end; all of these make this a great story. The movie was acclaimed as a great comedy, was award winning, and was covered in a cover story by Time Magazine when it was released in 1963.
The movie was directed by Tony Richardson and starred Albert Finney in an Oscar nominated role (Albert however did not get the Best Actor Oscar). The movie was also interesting in terms of Academy Award since it was the first and only time in which 3 actresses were nominated for 'Best Actress in a supporting role'.

Tom Jones (1963)

The movie is the story of Tom Jones. He was found by a Squire in his bed after he returned from a long trip, and the Square suspected that the was the illegitimate child of his servants. The good natured Squire decides to raise the bastard child like his own son (he had already kicked out the servants whom he suspected of giving birth to this child). The child, under this care, grows up to be a dashing and kind good man who can win hearts all around. However, in this society, he is still an illegitimate man, and cannot hope to marry the one whom he truly loves Sophie Western (Susannah York); she is from a much higher part of society. She loves him back, but cannot show this.
Her parents have somebody else in mind, somebody who would be more suitable for her. This person is Blifil (David Warner), the son of the Squire's sister. He is the exact opposite of Tom Jone, since he is of respectable birth, but otherwise possessing values that certainly do not endear him to Sophie. He is not particularly fond of Tom Jones, and after his mother's death he manages to convince the Squire to turn Tom Jones out (Blifil has also intercepted a letter from his mother to the Squire - and the content of this letter is not revealed till the end).
In his journey outside, Tom Jones goes through many experiences; he is robbed of his legacy, has to fight for the good name of Sophie, meets the persons who are supposed to be his parents, meets ladies out to get him, and eventually ends up in Jail, waiting to be hanged (since he has been framed by Blifil for robbery and attempted murder). He is facing the end, and this is when things start to turn right for him. The Squire rescues him, and finally they also learn that Tom Jones is in fact the illegitimate son of the Squire's sister, and not of servants. The Squire also learns that Blifil knew all this and yet concealed it, leading to disgrace for him. And so things end well for Tom Jones.
The movie won and was nominated for the following Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Music, Score - Substantially Original (John Addison)
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Albert Finney)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Hugh Griffith)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Diane Cilento)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Dame Edith Evans)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Joyce Redman)
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (Ralph W. Brinton, Ted Marshall, Jocelyn Herbert, Josie MacAvin)