May 4, 2006

Tonight I watched The Night of the Iguana

Today was a happy day as my order arrived – the DVD set Tennessee Williams Film Collection. So that’s six movies plus a disc with a documentary (Tennessee Williams’ South).

While I’ve always liked Williams, and thus have a fondness for films based on his plays (and one novel), I really bought this set for one movie, the one I watched tonight: The Night of the Iguana (1964), directed by John Huston (and starring Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr).

While I don’t think it’s a great movie I certainly think it’s very good. And I suppose it’s also what the movie is about, and how it is about it, that appeals to my own tastes in film and art generally.

It’s about frail people at the edge of endurance. The how, that appeals to me, is that it is through character and dialogue (Williams is, after all, a playwright) and it’s done with great empathy – kindness, I suppose, though it also has its harshness.

Williams work, at least as done cinematically, does have a certain histrionic quality seen at this distance (2006, whereas most of the films were made in the fifties and early sixties) but that doesn’t really bother me. I find it pretty easy to settle into the tone of the films. But that may not be so for everyone.

In The Night of the Iguana, by the way, as much as I like Richard Burton, and particularly like Deborah Kerr (her character has some of the best speeches), it is Ava Gardner who really stands out for me. Her performance is wonderful.

And now I have five more films to look forward to. The only problem is deciding which one is next. The set, by the way, includes these films:

- A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Two-Disc Special Edition
- Baby Doll (1956)
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) Deluxe Edition
- The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)
- Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)
- The Night of the Iguana (1964)

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Campaspe said...

This movie really is one of Ava's best performances (in the role Bette Davis played on stage, no less) and I thank you for reminding me of it. So tell me, in the Deluxe Ed. of Cat, is Brick actually gay? :D So much to savor in your box set. Vivien Leigh is very good in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and Rome looks fantastic. And if I were doing a Paul Newman retrospective, I would have to include his slant-board sit-up routine from Sweet Bird of Youth. I get a little feverish just thinking about it.

Bill said...

I think in Williams there's always at least one gay character (like Miss Fellowes in Iguana) though even in the Deluxe Edition of Cat, Brick's is still pretty much obscured. :-)

So far I've only watched Iguana, Cat and Streetcar. It's been quite a while since I've watched Streetcar and as I watched it again this time I realized my cat was Blanche.

This really is a great set.