Apparently a couple of you have requested a review of Joseph Andrews, an adaptation of the 1742 Henry Fielding novel made in 1977 (EEK) starring Ann-Margret (DOUBLE EEK). Trystan said, “it sounds ludicrous, w/Ann-Margaret playing ‘Lady Booby’ & one review saying she ‘lovingly swallows the full length of an asparagus dipped in oil'” and told me I should watch it. YEAH, WELL YOU JUST GO ON AHEAD AND WATCH IT, I’LL HANG OUT OVER HERE WITH MY QUALITY, TASTEFULLY DESIGNED ENTERTAINMENT. Harumph.
So I fired it up, and yeeeaaaagggg, that’s a lot of look!
Okay, so first I must confess that I don’t much care for “period romps,” à la Fielding’s other main work, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. The plots are always ludicrous (babies switched at birth! almost shagging your sister!), and EVERYONE overacts. I know, it’s supposed to be big and broad, but I like my humor witty! Oh, and usually the music is all “ooom pa pa” and drives me crazy.
Welp, Joseph Andrews has your switched orphans, your possibly incestuous relationships, your older characters in ratty wigs and piles of spackle — oh and gypsies to boot! It’s actually pretty darn good for 1977, and shockingly, I actually found many elements of the costumes to approve of … but they were going for “haw haw people in ye oldey times were gross and had no taste,” and the colors, hair, and makeup hits you like a Mack truck.
I don’t even know if I can summarize the plot for you without getting irritated, so let’s let some kind soul over at IMDB do it for me:
Lady Booby alias ‘Belle’, the lively wife of the fat landed squire Sir Thomas Booby, has a lusty eye on the attractive, intelligent villager Joseph Andrews, a Latin pupil and protégé of parson Adams, and makes him their footman. Joseph’s heart belongs to a country girl, foundling Fanny Goodwill, but his masters take him on a fashionable trip to Bath, where the spoiled society comes mainly to see and be seen, yet Sir Thomas really seeks relief for his sick foot, but drowns in the famous Roman baths. When the all but grieving lady finds Joseph’s Christian virtue and true love resist her lusting passes just as well as the many ladies who fancy her footman, she fires the boy. On his way back on foot, he falls prey to highwaymen who rob him of everything, even the cloths on his back. He’s found and nursed by an innkeeper’s maid, which stirs lusts there, again besides his honorable conduct, but is found by the good parson. Meawnhile the lady consents to her cousin marrying below their station when learning the fiancée is Joseph’s sister, Pamela. The parson barely escapes a wicked gentleman’s totally unjust, all but gentle justice after being accused of the attempted rape committed by a squire he actually prevented and comes to learn ever more about a relevant child-theft by gypsies, but meanwhile he, Joseph and Fanny fall prey again to the rapist’s utter debauchery…
The costume AND production design were done by Michael Annals, who was primarily a theatrical designer. His name is super featured in the opening credits, so he was clearly a Big Deal at the time. Trying to find any information about his work on this film (nada), I found a nice obituary about him written by Ian McKellan, so it seems he was very talented and valued by the theater community.
Beyond that, My Thoughts:
Living in a Renaissance Faire Paradise
Guys, you ain’t NEVER seen such a bucolic vision of rustic English life. The opening scene is some kind of May Day celebration, and there’s all kinds of happy peasants rusticating and frolicking and doing whatever the hell else your platonic ideal of peasants do.
Also, there is a character who is a “gypsy,” and if he isn’t Mr. July in the Hotties of the Renaissance Faire 1977 Calendar, I don’t know who is. He’s also got a lot of Kris Kristoffersen in A Star Is Born going on.
Satanic Nuns, Anyone?
It’s a sub-plot!
Oh the Hair
DEAR GOD THE MAKEUP
This film is decidedly in the camp of “18th century aristocrats were weird and gross and put 30 layers of spackle on their faces and never scraped it off.”
Every Wacky-Looking Character Actor You Can Imagine Is in This
Some of the Costumes Aren’t Bad
But Some Require Sunglasses
Others … Yeah
What will you people torment me with next?