Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom, 1968. World Film Services, Moo. n Lake, Universal Pictures, John Heyman Productions. Screenplay by Tennessee Williams, based on his play The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe. Produced by John Heyman, Norman Priggen. Music by John Barry. Production Design by Richard Macdonald. Costume Design by Annalisa Nasalli-Rocca. Film Editing by Reginald Beck.
You’ll wonder if perhaps the stars and crew of this film were vacationing on Capri and had to improvise a movie to justify making someone else pay the bills. Richard Burton plays a poor poet who shows up at the private island villa of an ornery, wealthy woman (Elizabeth Taylor) who spits nails just at the thought of him interrupting her solace. He eventually worms his way into her presence and they exchange barbs before she considers the possibility of a passionate affair while gradually realizing that he’s after her material goods and not her fleshly ones. Adapted by Tennesee Williams from an unsuccessful play into an even more unsuccessful film (it was a notorious bomb), there’s nothing to actually recommend it given that the great southern scribe had mined this territory before and better (it’s a retread of Sweet Bird Of Youth except that Burton is too old for the part as originally written). That said, time has ripened the beauty of the costumes and makeup to nostalgic perfection, and the sunny photography and gorgeous locale make sure that, even if it is empty and rarely makes sense, it is a ravishing film to look at and there’s something oddly enjoyable about how bad it is.