Sunday, 18 August 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1963: David Warner in Tom Jones

David Warner did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Blifil in Tom Jones.

Well due to reasons I'll get to soon, in addition to always accepting a chance to write a bit about the ever underrated David Warner, I've decided to grant an alternate review here. This being in fact his introduction to the screen as Blifil the nephew, and heir, of the good squire Allworthy, and the chief rival of our hero the bastard Tom Jones (Albert Finney) for the hand of the beautiful Sophie Western (Susannah York). Blifil isn't the meatiest of roles, however I think it then deserves mention as something to note of David Warner's talent that he manages to still make a more than decent impression with it. This in taking very much the approach of being essentially the anti-Tom. This is against Finney's outgoing, boisterous, charming, lusty Tom, is Warner's introverted, calm, repulsive, and demure Blifil. Warner so often making himself known in a scene by not so much stealing, but rather than raising a bit of stink to say the least. This as we see Finney doing each and everything, Warner is so often standing still with the stiffest posture, and a most predisposed to despise as Blifil looks on.

Warner conducts himself in the role as a right proper stick in the mud. This by the way deserves better mention as these types of roles can often times lead to boring moments in romance films, and comedies. This so often with the other man, when just an evil jerk, being just tired moments of either bland or over the top acting. Warner though makes quite the go of it to be quite the best nasty man one could ask for. This as Warner so effectively accentuates the difference between he and Tom in every instance in creating this wonderful pit of charisma in a way. This furthermore making no hiding the fact that no one would prefer Blifil with Warner creating such proper nasty grimaces, with his almost wilted delivery of his towards those around him. I especially love Warner's wooing of Sophie scene, where he is such a fantastic bit of awkwardness in each stiff maneuver towards the Sophie, and his state of care being almost more towards a business proposition than any sense of affection for her. Of course the extension of his difference from Tom, in a way, also is in his favor, as where Tom does everything pretty much in the moment, Blifil does have a bit more cunning in him. This in his methods to attempt to destroy Tom. This where Warner infuses a bit of delighted, if internalized glee in his tilted smile, and incisiveness in each of his maneuvers to destroy Tom. This as again he conducts himself as a proper villain really, in this state of vicious determination that goes as far as to try to have poor Tom hanged. Blifil's a nasty piece of work, but it is a joy to watch each of his moments thanks to Warner's performance. He accentuates the nastiness beautifully by providing this contrast to Finney's work. A contrast showing by playing up, without becoming over the top, the despicable nature of his character. Warner manages to make his impact swiftly. Most importantly though Warner makes the most with this character, who again can easily go so wrong, yet Warner importantly gets in on the fun of the film, by being the right type of horrible.


Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Any updated ratings for the cast, and also, your rating and thoughts on the performance that missed out (I'm assuming Nakadai).

Michael McCarthy said...

So happy to see this get reviewed, I’d go even higher with the rating myself.

Louis Morgan said...


Only George Devine, who stood out more on re-watch, as I liked the inherent warmth he brought to just the simplest reactions, suggesting he's always for Tom, even when society forces him not to be.