Adapted by Gore Vidal from Tennessee Williams' play The Seven Descents of Myrtle, this claustrophobic family drama revolves around a dying man's scheme to defraud his half-brother out of his inheritance. The unfortunate title alludes to Mobile, Alabama. Myrtle (Lynn Redgrave), a grasping floozie, is married on a TV game show to Jeb (James Coburn), who's dying of cancer. Jeb has inherited the family farm, located smack dab in the middle of the Mississippi Delta floodplain, from his late mother, to whom he clearly had an unhealthy attachment. And Jeb hates his African-American half-brother, Chicken (Robert Hooks) who got his nickname after surviving a flood by fleeing to the roof with the barnyard fowl which is why he wants to sire an heir before he dies, so Chicken won't inherit the family property. But once on the farm, Myrtle is torn between the two brothers. As the family tensions rise, the Mississippi river is swelling, threatening to overflow its banks. A two-act, three-person drama, The Seven Descents of Myrtle (which Williams revised and renamed Kingdom of Earth in 1975) was poorly received on Broadway, where it starred Brian Bedford, Harry Guardino and Estelle Parsons and ran only 29 performances. The film was originally given an X rating, but later re-rated R.
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