Monday, January 13, 2020


#2  Tom Jones

Susannah York and Albert Finney pitch woo
in Tom Jones

"Prepare yourself for what is surely one of the wildest, bawdiest and funniest comedies that a refreshingly agile filmmaker has ever brought to the screen."-Bosley Crowther, New York Times, October 8. 1963

"Tom Jones is a mess, sometimes called a romp, and a tribute as much as anything to the sudden new appetite for things English."-David Thomson, Have You Seen...?


Yes, the bawdy romp that is Tom Jones seems to have its fans as well as its detractors. Interesting that I've never gotten around to seeing it before. In fact, I can hardly remember it ever being on TV over the least not often. Seen now, it's an interesting transition British film when the country went from making serious early 60's English films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (also starring Finney) to the Swingin' London films of the later 60's, such as Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (starring David Warner of Tom Jones).

Tom Jones is a fun film especially for those who like period pieces, though the "bawdiness" of the film seems quite subdued by modern standards.

What's New Pussycat?: The Welsh singer Thomas Woodward was rechristened as "Tom Jones" after the success of the movie of the same name. I'm pretty sure more people in recent years are more familiar with the singer Tom Jones than the movie Tom Jones, let alone the original novel by Henry Fielding! But it's not unusual, I guess.

1963 Best Picture Nominees
Tom Jones
America, America
How the West Was Won
Lilies of the Field

None of the Best Picture Nominees for this year made the 1001 book.

In his Alternative Oscar book, Danny Peary awarded no Academy Award winner for 1963. The only year he gave it to no winner. (Though 8 1/2, Hud and The Great Escape seem like potentially worthy choices to me.)

Tony Richardson won the Best Director award for Tom Jones, beating out the formidable competition of Federico Fellini, Martin Ritt, Elia Kazan and Otto Preminger.

Tom Jones also won Best Adapted Screenplay for John Osborne and Best Adapted Musical Score by John Addison

Tom Jones had five Acting Nominations...none of whom won.
Albert Finney lost Best Actor to Sidney Potier of Lillies of the Field
Hugh Griffith lost Best Supporting Actor to Melvyn Douglas of Hud
Diane Cilento, Edith Evans and Joyce Redman all lost Best Supporting Actress to Margaret Rutherford in The V.I.P.'s

A Little Love for Susannah York, Please!: The five acting Oscar nominees for Tom Jones did not include leading lady Susannah York. She went on to have a very fine career in motion pictures, but never received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actess during her career.

Sometimes it Pays to Look Back in Anger: John Osborne was awarded the Best Screenplay Oscar for Tom Jones and had his play Luther win the Tony for Best Play the same yearThe original West End production of Luther starred Albert Finney. The 1973 film version featured Hugh Griffith in a supporting role. Tom Jones director Tony Richardson also directed Luther on the stage.

The hunting scene shot largely from a helicopter
 in Tom Jones

Tomorrow: The final Best Picture winner that I have never seen before!


  1. I completely missed Tom Jones when I did 1963 and I regret that now. I am almost done reading Henry Fielding's classic novel for my book blog and that is indeed both witty and bawdy and not a little amusing, hence my appetite to watch the movie.
    Should be interesting to compare the two.

  2. This is a merry romp but no way the Best Picture of the year. It's too long but does have a jolly sense of fun and Finney is completely disarming. I'll never understand the three supporting actress nods though. All those ladies are fine and excellent actresses but all have been better elsewhere. The beautiful production design is another plus but its parts are greater than the whole.

    Out of the five nominated I'd choose How the West Was Won simply because I love that film but even with all its sprawl and star-studded cast in an open field I'd never say it was the best of the year.

    That Alternative Oscar book is a fantastic read!! I reference it all the time. I might not always agree with his choices but I love reading his critiques and reasoning for his picks.

    Just one thing, Susannah York was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1969 for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?. She should have won as well if you ask me. Goldie Hawn is adorable in Cactus Flower and I know comedy isn't easy but she just doesn't match Susannah's searing work as the delusional Alice. She was an undervalued performer though I agree. I don't know how she missed being included in the actress nomination haul for this film but there are at least two other times she could have been acknowledged, for Images and The Maids, but missed out.

  3. TSorensen: I'd like to see your comparison between the book and the movie.

    joel: You are correct about Susannah York! I also like How the West Was Won...seeing it as a kid it certainly led me to know who certain stars were!