May 13, 2006

Mrs. Stone’s grim spring

Much as I like Vivien Leigh, and the work of Tennessee Williams, I can’t say I was terribly taken by The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961 - directed by José Quintero). I’m pretty sure this was the first time I had seen it and I’m also pretty sure I’ve never read the short novel it was based on (by Williams).

I think I like the idea of the movie less than the actual film itself. I wish there were more films about people in their latter years. But this one was just too … I dunno. Bland, I guess (though that seems an odd descriptive for something based on a work by Tennessee Williams).

Part of the problem is there is a bit of an anachronistic feel to the film. It looks and feels very sixties – but maybe that’s just the hairstyles and clothes. More seriously, it is just too somber. Not that that is inappropriate, but it is unrelieved. So there is no sense of balance.

Oddly, there was drama going on around the filming, at least with Vivien Leigh and her break up with Lawrence Olivier, and that probably informed her performance, which is quite good.

And Lotte Lenya is extremely good as an evil procuress. As for Warren Beatty, I was fine with his performance (though others are not so kind) but still would have preferred an actual Italian in the role.

Yes, I think my biggest problem is the seriousness of tone that never lets up. Somewhere in all this there should have been some “oomph,” whatever that might be. On the whole, I found Mrs. Stone’s spring slow-moving and grim.

Much more like fall.

1 comment:

Campaspe said...

I tend to agree with your observations. Vivien Leigh is so good, but the movie is quite dour, probably the gloomiest Rome-set flick ever made.

As for the film being very 60s--that's OK by me, but you remind me of another Leigh movie, Ship of Fools. That one has some good performances and such potential, but I find myself horribly distracted by the clothes and hair. They are all as early 60s as early 60s can be, and the film is set in the 1930s!! I will never understand why this happened so often in old movies.