(On Cable TV, February 2018) There are many reasons why I should like Tom Jones. It’s a comedy, set in convincing period setting, with twists and turns and quite a bit of naughtiness. It won the Big Oscar. It features Albert Finney as a simple-minded lad irresistible to the surrounding women, and it frequently breaks the fourth wall, begging the audience to acknowledge how silly it is. The opening sequence even takes on silent movie airs for laughs. It plays some dramatic sequences as comedy and some uplifting sequences for discomfort (such as the hunting sequence). But strangely enough, I had a hard time convincing myself to pay attention to the film. It feels lifeless, clunky, at times trying too hard and at others holding back on some of its potential. It’s unfortunate that I constantly ended up comparing it to the somewhat-similar Barry Lyndon (which is almost as funny despite being, well, a Kubrick drama) In some ways, I think that Tom Jones may have been made five or ten years too early: A lot of what it has to say (in libidinous terms, for instance, or in how to integrate comedy with period pieces) would be done more successfully in the late sixties, or in films such as Woody Allen’s Love and Death (1975). As it is, it’s mildly naughty without being truly free to deliver on its promises and not quite sure where to push the comic envelope. It still won that year’s Best Picture Oscar, though, so what do I know?