Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.
United Kingdom, 1970. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Robert Bolt. Cinematography by Freddie Young. Produced by Anthony Havelock-Allan. Music by Maurice Jarre. Production Design by Stephen B. Grimes. Costume Design by Jocelyn Rickards. Film Editing by Norman Savage. Academy Awards 1970. Golden Globe Awards 1970. National Board of Review Awards 1970.
Despite having a great cast of actors, eye-popping cinematography by Freddie Francis of misty Irish shores and a beautiful musical score by Maurice Jarre, not to mention the usually steady hand of director David Lean at the helm, this is one of the most unbearably boring films ever made. Sarah Miles stars as a beautiful young Irish lass whose desire for more romance in her life has her pursuing a much older schoolteacher (Robert Mitchum doing a decent Irish accent) and eventually marrying him. Things seem to be going well until a British soldier (Christopher Jones, who is just plain creepy, with dialogue dubbed by a British actor) is posted to their town and she falls in mad lust with him. Their affair begins more and more to lean towards tragedy until an eventual outcome that is annoyingly easy to predict and makes the film that much more annoying to endure. Robert Bolt’s screenplay claims to be an original, but anyone who has read Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina will be familiar with how things go. John Mills inexplicably won an Academy Award for playing the town mute, who mugs for the camera about fifteen times and is pretty much inconsequential to the narrative otherwise. Lean had a fantastic career full of nothing but classics, so it’s not too dire that he should have one terrible film in the group instead of a bunch of mediocre ones, but that being said it should still be avoided by even his biggest fans. Trevor Howard is excellent as the local priest with an understanding soul.