Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Moll" Isn't Built Like "Tom"

Cleveland Press May 28, 1965

Now it was only natural to assume that with the success of "Tom Jones" there would be a similar film made. "Moll Flanders" is about lusty men and willing maids in 18th Century England.

If the producers had stopped there with the imitation and gone on to create situations that evolved naturally out of the story, I would have little argument.

But I had the distinct feeling that the people responsible for "Moll Flanders" sat in a screening room and had "Tom Jones" run off something like 37 times.

"TOM" has speeded up photography. So has "Moll." "Tom" has a rapidly played harpsichord on the sound track. So has "Moll." "Tom" has a camera technique that moves and blurs across the screen, that follows men on horseback while the scenery whizzes by, that has sudden blackouts in the bedroom scenes, and on and on.

And so has "Moll."

The humor of "Tom" was earthy and natural and uncontrived. The same cannot be said of "Moll" which dwells at length on various stops along the way as the heroine makes her way upward in the world from one bed to another.

Defoe's novel about a woman who gets ahead by her wits and her other charms has been adapted to make the most of ribaldry and comic situations. As Kim Novak portrays her the emphasis is less on wit that it is the other charms.

WHETHER she is a modern tart with a diamond in her navel as in "Kiss Me, Stupid" or an 18th Century trollop laced up tight in a low-cut dress, Miss Novak is still Miss Novak. The emotion she expresses best is the look of resignation as she encounters one man after another.

The film is rich in small parts by other actors. Lilli Palmer is delightful as the head of a gang of thieves and George Sanders revels as a lecherous old man.

Richard Johnson has the right appearance and bearing for a dashing highwayman. Hugh Griffith, the Squire in "Tom Jones," is wasted in a bit part. Vittorio DeSica, a fine Italian ham, clowns it up as phony count with a roving eye. He's good, but it seems like a waste of good prosciutto.