In 1952, Geraldine Page starred in this Williams play. It took nine years for it to get to the screen, and if it weren't for Page's luminous performance, there would not be much to recommend the movie. Williams had dealt with this character before under another name in THE GLASS MENAGERIE.
She is supposedly based on his sister, who ultimately went insane. What the title means is anybody's guess. Director Glenville staged the London version of the show and was brought in to handle the movie but didn't have much understanding of the oppressive southern upbringing depicted in the
script. Perhaps his direction made sense when Englishmen and women spoke the lines in the West End but it failed here, except for Page, who was nominated as Best Actress, and Merkel, who was nominated as Best Supporting Actress. Bernstein's music captured the era and the surroundings, and he
received an Academy nomination, as did the film for Best Art Direction. It's just before WW I, and Page lives in a tiny town in Mississippi where she must be above suspicion since her father, Atterbury, is the town's minister. She is sexually repressed, flighty, neurotic, and seemingly on the edge
of a breakdown. Her neighbor is Harvey, a doctor. His father, McIntire, is also a doctor, although the two men have differing opinions on how to conduct their practices. Page has loved Harvey ever since they were quite small. She is coy around him and continues to be shy, despite the fact that
they were in diapers together. Harvey considers Page only a friend and prefers the company of lively Moreno, who works in her father's (Gomez) noisy dance hall. She is a happy young woman, uncomplicated, the opposite of Page, who persists in attempting to get close to him. He eventually takes her
out for a night at Gomez's casino. Afterward he mistakes her affection for him and tries to seduce her. She is unable to handle the direct frontal assault, tells him off, and runs away, leaving Harvey confused by her see-saw behavior. With Page out of his life, Harvey decides to become engaged to
Moreno. He times it so his father is out of town and he can throw a large party as a celebration. Page watches the goings-on from her house and sees the party get wilder, then she phones McIntire and tells him that his home is being abused. McIntire rushes home, has a confrontation with Gomez, and
is accidentally killed when a gun goes off. Harvey is stunned by what's happened and decides to mend his wicked ways, settle down, and take over his father's successful practice. Time passes and Page watches as Harvey seems to have become a solid citizen. Meanwhile, her passion becomes unbridled
and she directly approaches him and offers herself for his pleasure. By this time, Harvey is a changed man and he only sees Page as a spiritual companion. Harvey has now met Tiffin, a sweet young woman to whom he becomes affianced. When Page hears that, she takes a walk in the local park where she
meets Holliman, a traveling salesman just passing through. Holliman doesn't know anyone, is lonely, and so is Page. She takes the young man by the hand and they go off to spend the night at Gomez's Moon Lake casino. Maybe, just maybe, they will wind up with each other at the salesman's motel.
We'll never know. Like so many of the works of Williams, it deals with tension, with repression, with awakening, and, ultimately, with disintegration. Most of what happens is in Page's face, a magnificent instrument which she plays like Pablo Casals handles the cello. After many Academy
nominations for Best Supporting Actress (HONDO, YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW, PETE 'N' TILLIE), as well as for Best Actress in this, SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, and INTERIORS, she finally won for her 1985 triumph, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL.
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- Review: In 1952, Geraldine Page starred in this Williams play. It took nine years for it to get to the screen, and if it weren't for Page's luminous performance, there would not be much to recommend the movie. Williams had dealt with this character before under an… (more)