Another movie that is usually regarded as one of the worst choices by the Academy – but back in 1963, Tom Jones was a real sensation, winning practically every award leading up to the big night. Considering that Tom Jones is a frivolous comedy about a young man who enjoys the opposite sex, this may seem rather surprising but it mixes its plot with a lot of originality and energy, features a strong cast of British actors and knows how to entertain by (mostly) keeping a rather fast tempo.
Most importantly, Tom Jones achieves the task to never feel forced – a lot of movies that so desperately try to be different, new, original only feel extremely mannered in their attempts to do so. But somehow everything that is so unique about Tom Jones keeps a very welcome and refreshing feeling of never overdoing it. Characters looking into the camera, talking into the camera, silent movie scenes, a rhyming narrator and unusual use of score, editing and cinematography only help to create a maybe weird but still strangely captivating movie.
Tom Jones mostly benefits from this cheerful ensemble but the story and the direction add a lot to its overall charm, too. The story itself may not be too exciting in itself and obviously the movie lacks a lot of depth or true development but Tom Jones never pretends that it wants any of these – instead, it proudly carries its lightness and unconcern. I admit, the movie not always delivers on a high level – it begins to move rather slowly after the first 30 minutes and also the last 20 minutes could have been better and yes, overall, the movie could have been shorter since 128 minutes are quite an exaggeration. But still, there is enough in Tom Jones to turn it into a curious but ambitious little movie – the surprising honesty of the hunting scene, the dialogue between Edith Evans and Hugh Griffith with all the farm animals as ‘spectators’ or the famous dinner-scene between Albert Finney and Joyce Redman.
Tom Jones is an enjoyable and interesting movie which may not be the height of sophistication in any way but sometimes, a little silliness, playfulness and creativity is just as good.