After watching Jerry Wald's production of Faulkner's novel, you won't wish you were in the land of cotton where old times are not forgotten. Decadence rules in Faulkner's world, and this story is no exception. Beal and Warden are brothers to Leighton, an alcoholic nymphomaniac. Warden is
an imbecile who doesn't say a word, and Beal's character is underwritten to a point where no one is quite sure about his place in matters. The focus is on Leighton, who had to alter her British accent to fit the role of a fallen Dixie woman. The father of this unlikely trio had remarried after the
death of his first wife and acquired a stepson, Brynner, who now rules the family roost by dint of having taken on the name of his stepfather. Woodward is Leighton's illegitimate daughter, and all of them are under the benevolent thumb of Brynner. Leighton had abandoned Woodward at her birth and
gone off to play in the outside world. She returns now, ostensibly to reawaken her love for her daughter, but the truth is that she is so washed out that men won't play with her any longer and she needs a place to live. Woodward is starved for affection and finds it in the strong arms of circus
roustabout Whitman. He has an affair with her, then exits, and Woodward must now face the world alone. Woodward finds Brynner attractive despite his being her uncle, although incest is never fully plumbed here as it was in the book. In the end, the teenage Woodward (who was actually 29 at the
time) demonstrates that she is not willing to give up her uncle Brynner just because there's a little incest law that forbids it.
Brynner wears a wig and tries, with only fair success, to mask his foreign accent with a southern drawl. Waters is the family retainer who heads a group of black servants, among whom Perry is the standout as the youngster who takes care of the mute Warden. Brynner's role was the most intriguing in
that he was seen to be the head of this family, desperately attempting to keep them together. In one sequence, he offers Whitman money to leave Woodward alone, and when the circus man takes the cash, Woodward sees that Brynner was right in his assumption of Whitman's basic dishonesty. There are
several stories going simultaneously, and credit must be given to the way the screenwriters handled the multilayered tale. New Yorker Ritt, who had already looked south in THE LONG HOT SUMMER, was to make several movies about the area, including NORMA RAE and SOUNDER. The sexuality, no matter how
subtly it was depicted, will not be lost on youngsters.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: After watching Jerry Wald's production of Faulkner's novel, you won't wish you were in the land of cotton where old times are not forgotten. Decadence rules in Faulkner's world, and this story is no exception. Beal and Warden are brothers to Leighton, an a… (more)