In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Woodfall Films became practically synonymous with the social realism of the British New Wave, turning out a number of acclaimed films directed by Tony Richardson, a leading figure of the movement who was also one of the company’s cofounders. But in 1962—after successfully bringing playwright and fellow Woodfall cofounder John Osborne’s rebellious work to the screen (Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer), and going on to burnish his reputation with still other black-and-white “kitchen-sink” dramas (A Taste of Honey, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner)—Richardson reteamed with Osborne and struck out in a bold new direction.
A comic period piece shot in color, chronicling the rambling misadventures of a charming orphan (Albert Finney) as he enters adulthood, their playful version of Henry Fielding’s 1749 comic picaresque Tom Jones was a wholly novel film for Woodfall. It became a worldwide sensation, taking home four Oscars, including best picture. Among the supplements on our brand-new edition of the film is a piece in which scholar Duncan Petrie discusses some of the creative choices that made Tom Jones so influential. In the above clip, Petrie touches on the casting’s inspired mix of fresh faces and veteran performers, and the modern sensibility embodied by Walter Lassally’s camera work.