What's for dinner? Joyce Redman in "Tom Jones."

What's for dinner? Joyce Redman in "Tom Jones."

Criterion Collection/Criterion Collection

Tom Jones, the 1963 Oscar winner about the ups and downs of a strapping 18th century foundling (Albert Finney), just came out as a Criterion Collection Blu-ray. It's a lively fusion of picaresque literature and adventurous cinematic style.

More important, it has one of the best food scenes in film history, the one sequence that even those who haven't watched the film have likely seen.

Tom sits down at a tavern for a meal with Mrs. Waters (Joyce Redman). As they sit on opposite sides of the long table, they consume large amounts of food: crab, various hunk of meat, oysters, mounds of fruit. The film cuts from one diner to the other; as their stomachs fill, they get sloppier and sloppier and their eyes get more mischievous. This is dining as seduction, or gastro lust.

The movies have found great pleasure in food, from the cafeteria food fight in Animal House to the obsessive preparation of tomato sauce in GoodFellas. In Tom Jones, love is food, and food is love.

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