Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1967. Warner Brothers/Seven Arts. Screenplay by Chapman Mortimer, Gladys Hill, based on the novel by Carson McCullers. Cinematography by Aldo Tonti. Produced by John Huston, Ray Stark. Music by Toshiro Mayuzumi. Production Design by Stephen B. Grimes. Costume Design by Dorothy Jeakins. Film Editing by Russell Lloyd. Podcast: Bad Gay Movies.
One of the absolute strangest experiences you’ll ever have watching a Hollywood film; I’m convinced that cast and crew alike were high on mushrooms when they filmed it. Two defunct marriages live side by side on a glorious army base in the south, one with Brian Keith trying to deal with his emotionally damaged wife (Julie Harris) and the other seeing Elizabeth Taylor and her Major husband (Marlon Brando) completely at odds with each other. It doesn’t help, of course, that Taylor and Keith are having an affair while Brando desperately lusts after a young, wordless soldier (Robert Forster in his film debut) who loves to ride his horse in the nude. Strange dialogue, even stranger situations and completely flat direction by John Huston (who is capable of so much more, even in terms of performances if not storytelling) make for an incredible piece of curiousity that simply has to be seen to be believed. Brando is mostly incomprehensible and Taylor is just riffing off of her Raintree County performance, with Harris giving the only credible turn. Other than her and the world-class cinematography by Aldo Tonti, it’s a washout.