Tom Jones (1963)

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Released 12-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 123:19
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tony Richardson
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Albert Finney
Susannah York
Hugh Griffith
Edith Evans
Joan Greenwood
Diane Cilento
George Devine
David Tomlinson
Rosalind Atkinson
Angela Baddeley
Avis Bunnage
Peter Bull
James Cairncross
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music John Addison
Mack David


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Hungarian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The 1963 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Tom Jones is based (quite faithfully apparently) on the 1749 novel by Henry Fielding. Tom (Albert Finney) is taken in as a foundling into the wealthy Allworthy family. Without formal education, he grows up into a spirited youth in the family of Mr Allworthy's sister Bridget Blifil. Tom falls in love with Sophie (Susannah York), the daughter of their neighbour Mr Western (Hugh Griffith). Kicked out of the family due to the machinations of the younger Blifil (David Warner), Tom has various adventures leading him to London.

    This is a vibrant and lively recreation of the novel, which could be described as a saucy, bawdy, ribald romp, and I'm sure it has been. Rather than being a stately and staid period piece as many such films are, this one attempts to recreate the spirit of the novel and of the times, and it seems as though everyone associated with the film had a good time making it. It certainly effectively conveys the griminess and earthiness of the period.

    Albert Finney is fine as Tom, as is Susannah York in one of her earliest roles as Sophie. Also of note in the cast is Hugh Griffith, giving his usual intensely eccentric performance, and the Dickensian Peter Bull, who was born to play the role of Mr Thwackum, or indeed any bewigged 18th century schemer. Dame Edith Evans stands out as the elder Miss Western, as does the plummy-voiced Joan Greenwood as Lady Bellaston. And that is just a small part of the large cast which makes this film a pleasure to watch. Tony Richardson directed with verve and energy in what must be his best film, casting his then sister-in-law Lynn Redgrave in a small role, and his mother-in-law Rachel Kempson as Bridget. The film opens with a silent sequence complete with titles, and there are sequences that are sped up, characters look at and talk to the audience, and there is an excellent narration spoken by Micheál MacLiammóir. There is also a clever and inventive score by John Addison. This is a fine film which must have seemed like a breath of fresh air in the early 1960s when most films were pompous, self important and pretentious, possibly accounting for the Oscar win. All in all, very entertaining.

    In 1989, Tony Richardson produced a "restored" version which was in fact just cut by several minutes. The version released on this DVD is the full-length original version.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, but is not 16x9 enhanced, which is disappointing. While it is possible on a widescreen television to zoom the image to fill the screen, this results in parts of the frame not being visible, and I found this film better to watch window-boxed so that I could see the entire frame.

    The video image is a little soft and lacking in clarity and detail. This transfer is what I would have expected a VHS edition to look like, though perhaps it is slightly better than that. The original film must have looked slightly washed out and murky, if this transfer is accurate. The outdoor scenes are reasonable, but the indoor scenes and the numerous night scenes (mostly shot day-for-night) are dark and lacking in shadow detail.

    The colour is muted and lacking in vibrancy. Flesh tones seem fairly good, so this may have been a deliberate look achieved by the filmmakers. Black levels are average, and I thought I could detect some low level noise at times.

    The transfer is a little grainy, though not to disturbing levels. I did not notice any significant film to video artefacts. There are quite a few film artefacts, with some specks of dirt and regular white spots. This is especially noticeable during scene changes or the occasional optical wipes. There were also reel change markings at 108:03.

    Optional English subtitles are provided, in white italicised lettering, and these are quite clear and match the dialogue with a few abbreviations.

    The entire film is crammed onto a single layered disc. With a film of this length, this is possible without significant problems, but it should be mandatory that a dual-layered transfer is used in such cases. The bitrate is consequently quite low.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Two audio tracks are available, in English and German, and both are Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The sound level seems lower than is usual, which meant that I had to turn the volume up significantly to hear the dialogue. The dialogue is mostly intelligible though. A lot of the dialogue seems to have been looped after the shooting, as audio sync is often an issue. A couple of times I thought that the dialogue recorded did not match the words mouthed by the actors.

    The sound generally is very average. It is occasionally harsh, but most often soft and lacking in clarity. The music score in period style by John Addison comes over satisfactorily despite the sonic limitations, which is good as it is an excellent score which adds a great deal to the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (2:48)

    The trailer is in reasonable condition, though it has more film artefacts than the feature. It gives a good account of the film, and is presented in 1.85:1 though it is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There have been two releases of this film in Region 1. The first, from HBO, is the cut version and according to reviews is in poorer condition that the newer release from MGM. It has a surround encoded stereo soundtrack, but the one comparative review I have seen calls it inferior to the mono track on the MGM disc. This release also includes a theatrical trailer and some cast and crew biographies.

    The MGM release in Region 1 seems to be the same as that in Region 4, so there is no reason to prefer one over the other.

Summary

    An enjoyable romp.

    The video quality is average but acceptable.

    The audio quality is adequate.

    The sole extra is a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
a very disappointing disc - penguin (there is no bio)