Most helpful positive review
124 of 133 people found the following review helpful
A Southern Gothic Treat
on February 17, 2004
How could a movie fanatic go wrong with this one? Sidney Pollack directing, with Francis Ford Coppola helping out with the adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play? A great cast , with especially memorable performances from Natalie Wood, Kate Reid and Mary Badham (as younger sister, Willie Starr)? Roberts Redford and Blake and Charles Bronson thrown in for lagniappe? Sounds like great gumbo to me.
Natalie Wood is absolutely alluring in this one. She and Redford, who also teamed together in the memorable INSIDE DAISY CLOVER, did indeed appear to have a lot of screen chemistry. He is the cynical company man who appears like the Grim Reaper in a small, shabby, depression-era southern town, carrying pink slips with him, instead of a scythe. The role has a lot of resonance now, what with all the corporate downsizing currently going on. Needless to say, the townfolk don't much cotton to Mr Owen Legate, with his fancy suit and self-assured ways.
With a couple notable exceptions. Tom boyish Willie Starr is taken by him right away and the minute her big sister Alma sets eyes on him, she's putty. Wood's expression in that initial glance is part of film history.
Owen further antagonizes the townfolk because they see that Alma has taken a shine to an outsider. Alma's been something of a tramp up this point, givining it up to varying degrees to most of the men in the town. Several of them, including an old geezer with an invilid wife, have been fantazising about further adventures with Alma. And Alma's mother is upset with Owen, because she sees that he is going to take away her gravy train. Hazel Starr is one of Williams' great eccentric female characters, and perhaps his most unctuous (though Amanda Wingfield, in THE GLASS MENAGERIE, is no prize, either. Kate Reid is perfect in the role. This, to me is her most memorable performance, followed closely by her title role in AND MISS REARDON DRINKS A LITTLE, which unfortunatley appears to be impossible to find. It's hard to believe she never won an Oscar or a Tony.
This was only the second feature film that Pollock directed. He of course went on to great things with such films as THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY and TOOTSIE. He and Cinematographer James Wong Howe do a great job of capturing small southern town lethargy, as well as 30's New Orleans ambience. The print, unfortunately, could definitely use a full restoration. It's faded noticeably over time. The film certainly warrants the extra work. Yet time cannot wither Natalie Wood. She's still one of the most lovely women a camera ever made love to. This film definitely belongs near the top of the list for screen adaptations of Williams' plays.