Raintree County (1957)

EDWARD DMYTRYK

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.

USA, 1957.  .  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by . Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1957.  Golden Globe Awards 1957.

Almost twenty years after Gone With the Wind, another attempt was made to mount a giant epic of Southern Gothic proportions as a vehicle for Elizabeth Taylor.  Taylor’s performance shows more than enough skill to make a good Scarlett O’Hara, particularly in a nine-minute dramatic monologue that she delivers almost all in one take, but the soap operatic screenplay and Edward Dmytryk’s flat direction keep it far away from being a classic. Taylor plays a young, conniving Southern Belle who woos an unsuspecting Montgomery Clift (his first film role in four years after a self-imposed hiatus) into marriage and away from his intended fiancee (Eva Marie Saint in an excellent performance). As time goes on, Clift begins to suspect that his seemingly perfect wife might actually be mentally disturbed. The turgid melodrama is impossible to take seriously, but the acting is excellent. This is the film Clift was making when he suffered his highly publicized car accident that destroyed his perfectly handsome features (though most people don’t realize that his heavy drinking at the time were doing a lot more damage to his looks than the accident ever did).

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