The third and best of the filmed versions of martyrs and dead magnolias. Directed by Paul Newman, the Tennessee Williams classic is painstakingly faithful to the play and features extraordinary performances from all the actors. Tom (John Malkovich) is the story's narrator and sets the
scene for the "memory play" by introducing the characters. Tom himself is a poet who works in a warehouse to support his family but who longs for escape. Amanda (Joanne Woodward) is his mother, a Southern belle who forsook her genteel background to marry a telephone man who eventually left his
family. Laura (Karen Allen) is his sister, the victim of a childhood disease that left one leg shorter than the other, though she is even more crippled by shyness. Finally, there is the gentleman caller (James Naughton), Tom's coworker at the warehouse. While Laura is engrossed in the world of the
fragile glass figurines that she collects, Amanda is concerned with finding a husband for her and asks Tom's help.
Newman has said that he approached THE GLASS MENAGERIE less as a filmmaker than as an archivist, and his version is, in essence, a filmed stage play. It is something of a cliche to give a filmed play a claustrophobic feel, but THE GLASS MENAGERIE and its trapped characters cry out for such a
treatment and Newman has effectively evoked it. Newman lets the actors and Williams's poetic language do the work. All of the performances are superb. Woodward's delightful Amanda is full of contradictions and Malkovich's Tom is a product of frustration, romantic dreams and guilt. Allen is a
surprising revelation, as her previous film roles have asked so little of her. Here she plumbs emotions of considerable depth, and is entirely capable of rationalizing her character's retreat from reality.
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- Released: 1987
- Rating: PG
- Review: The third and best of the filmed versions of martyrs and dead magnolias. Directed by Paul Newman, the Tennessee Williams classic is painstakingly faithful to the play and features extraordinary performances from all the actors. Tom (John Malkovich) is the… (more)