Moll Flanders – the amorous adventures of – is a sprawling, brawling, gaudy, bawdy, tongue-in-cheek comedy that seeks to caricaturize an 18th-century London wench’s desire to be a gentlewoman and her varying exploits thereof. Starring Kim Novak in title role, it has sex and color, slapstick and lusty, busty characterization, action which is sometimes very funny and, again, equally unfunny.
The foreword slyly states: ‘Any similarity between this film and any other film is purely coincidental.’ However that may be, it was a natural that the success scored by Tom Jones should be followed by a femme counterpart in this adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s novel.
Director Terence Young seems constantly to keep in mind the comic potentialities of his subject and his helming is always broad, leavened with old-fashioned sight gags. The screenplay follows Moll as she goes to London, to seek her goal through a variety of affairs and marriages which culminate in a ceremony with a highwayman whom she mistook to be a wealthy landowner.
Richard Johnson (whom Novak wed after pic ended) gives colorful and romantic enactment to the highwayman character. George Sanders’ portrayal of a rich banker wed to Moll is robust and comical. Leo McKern, as Johnson’s outlaw henchman, also scores a comedy hit.