THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS
UK, 1965, 126 minutes, Colour.
Kim Novak, Richard Johnson, Angela Lansbury, Leo Mc Kern, Vittorio de Sica, George Sanders, Lili Palmer, Dandy Nichols, Cecil Parker, Daniel Massey, Derrin Nesbitt.
Directed by Terence Young.
The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders is based on the classic novel by Daniel Defoe. It focuses on the misfortunes of a young girl who has to live out her life as a prostitute – but who also is shrewd enough to make good from her situation.
Kim Novak had appeared in the mid-50s and had made quite an impact in such films as Picnic and Vertigo – although her acting style is limited and is more based on her blonde screen presence. At this stage she was married to Richard Johnson, who appears with her. The film has a very strong supporting cast of character actors who bring 17th and 18th century England to life.
The film appeared soon after the success of the Oscar-winning Tom Jones and was a chance to capitalise on audience interest in period costume comedy-dramas.
The film was directed by Terence Young who, after a solid career in the UK in the 1950s, was the director of Dr No. He followed this up with From Russia With Love and was to direct Thunderball. During the 1970s he made a number of thrillers and dramas like Bloodline with Audrey Hepburn.
Moll Flanders has been popular with two versions on television, a two-part series in 1975 with Julia Foster and a four-part series in 1996 with Alex Kingston. Another film version appeared in 1996 with Robyn Wright Penn as Moll and a strong supporting cast including Morgan Feeman and Stockard Channing.
1. How enjoyable was the film? As history, comedy, satire, sex farce? The combination of all these aspects? Which predominated in tone?
2. The film had a classical origin in the novel. Did this classical treatment come across in the film’s style?
3. The value of the colour, re-creation of the sets? English countryside, London, the models of 18th Century art for visual style?
4. The tone of the prologue, the credits? The setting of mood and style?
5. The picaresque structure of the film and its episodic nature? The enjoyment in this? The value of Moll's ironic autobiographical comments? Her moralizing comments?
6. The importance of the social setting: the orphanage, the rich house, the manners and morals of the aristocracy, life in the country, the highwaymen and the dangers of the road, city life and sophistication, the life of thieves, the banker's life, the picture of Newgate, the transported convicts? How interesting? The picturing of Moll within this social setting? Did it help to understand her?
7. Moll as a person? Her origins and ambitions, people laughing at her, her proving herself? As attractive? Her hold on the two brothers and their father? Her comments? Her ambitions and moral comment? Marriage?
Saving herself on the road? The relationship with the banker? Her relationship with Lady Blighstone and the Count? How really amorous were her adventures? Her involvement in the life of crime? Her success at it?
8. The picture of the family and the satire? The father and his morality, the brothers and the use of Moll? The irony and farce of the marriage? The victimising of their rough brother? His death?
9. The satire in the presentation of the banker? His reappearances at different times? His religious attitudes. his lack of morals? His fear of death? The marriage and Moll's running away? His own death in Newgate? The irony of Moll's inheriting his wealth?
10. Jazzy as the hero? The irony in his courtship? The visualising of detail of the places they went? Rich London as the background? The pretence, changing into love? His life of crime? His escapes? His relationship with Squint? How successful a hero of this film? An 18th Century hero?
11. The comic relief of Squint? Satire on the Squire and his manners? His way of handling things. pretentiously? Especially the elaborate farce on the ship?
12. The character of Dutchy: her liaison with Jazzy, love for him, jealousy of Moll. her dealing in stolen goods, training of Moll? Newgate and new life in America?
13. The satire on Lady Blighstone, the Count and his Italian ways? Their poverty and pretensions? Lady Blighstone’s suspicions of the Count and discovering him? Their escape to America?
14. Comment on the ship sequence as typical of the comedy of the film?
15. The presentation of the robberies and their style?
16. The harshness of Newgate, comedy and satire in the superintendent, the visit of the Mayor?
17. The minor characters and the atmosphere for the film?
18. How enjoyable was the film? The traditional values that it poked fun at and yet stood up for?