Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. United Kingdom, 1972. Timon Productions. Screenplay by Andrew Sinclair, based on the play by Dylan Thomas. Cinematography by Robert Huke. Produced by John Comfort. Music by Brian Gascoigne. Production Design by Geoffrey Tozer. Costume Design by Dulcie Midwinter, Roy Ponting. Film Editing by Willy Kemplen, Greg Miller.
Dylan Thomas’ popular radio drama is adapted to film with a number of stars making brief and, in some cases, obscure appearances, including Peter O’Toole, Elizabeth Taylor, Glynis Johns, and Richard Burton, whose own recording of the original text is one of his most beloved career accomplishments. Made in a style looking to recapture the critical success of Ulysses, it features moments from the lives of the Welsh town of Llareggub (that’s “Bugger all” spelled backwards), some humorous, some poignant, with Thomas’ charming text left pretty much intact. It’s actually quite lovely at times, but there’s an uneven tone to the whole thing, both in dramatic movement and casting: Taylor looks ravishing in her £600 worth of dresses (for three days of filming, for which she received a whopping £10,000), but having so obvious a movie star in the midst of plainer faces like Vivien Merchant is somewhat jarring (even Burton and Johns blend in better by comparison). It’s a weird movie, but its cult status means that you might be among those who take it in as one of their own.