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This Property Is Condemned Reviews

Two kids (Badham and Provost) are sitting at a railway station. In flashback, Badham relates to her companion the sordid tale of her much admired, deceased sister. In a Depression-ravaged town in rural Mississippi, Reid runs a boarding house. Her daughter, Wood, is a beautiful young girl madly in love with Redford, a stranger from New Orleans staying at the house. He's in town to lay off some railroad workers but is beaten up by five of them. He plans to leave town after this and take Wood with him. However, Reid fools Redford into thinking that Wood is engaged to Harding, a wealthy middle-aged man Reid would prefer her daughter marry, and Redford leaves without the girl. When she hears why he left, she gets drunk and marries Bronson, her mother's violent, mean lover, out of spite. Realizing her mistake, Wood follows Redford to New Orleans the day after her wedding. But her mother catches up with them and reveals to Redford that Wood has married Bronson, a disclosure that destroys her daughter's happiness and will to live. Wood ends up becoming the town slut, eventually dying from tuberculosis. Years later, as the film returns to the two 13-year-olds, all Badham can see is the romance behind her sister's life. THIS PROPERTY CONDEMNED is a film wracked by problems, but it somehow survived to become an interesting potboiler. The seamy sexual story is taken from a play by Tennessee Williams, a short one-act originally intended for Elizabeth Taylor with Richard Burton directing. This project fell through, however, and the property went through 12 different screenwriters until a script emerged from Coppola, Coe, and Sommer. Williams, disgusted with the final version, demanded that his name be removed from the project. This request was not granted, though his name was de-emphasized in the ad campaign. After a search for directors, Pollack was finally chosen. Wood, who had enjoyed working with Redford before (reportedly because of his reputation for not putting the make on actresses he worked with), demanded the fledgling star once more. Problems were plentiful on the set. As filming continued, Pollack's dissatisfaction with the script grew, forcing him to cut and change things quite often. Redford resented executive producer Stark's intrusions onto the set and changes to the script. Bronson felt his role should have been expanded and the triangle among him, Redford, and Wood given more emphasis. The director chose otherwise though, emphasizing Wood's character and leaving Bronson's confrontations with his co-star to be expressed mostly through silent looks. Problems also arose on the location shooting; the townspeople of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, didn't care for the filmmakers or their subject and tried to drive them out. All in all, the resulting film was a mixture of good and bad, with some wonderful cinematography by the great cameraman Howe. The script is riddled with obvious problems, but the acting is top-notch. Wood gives her trashy part a quality performance. Redford provides good support in what was his fourth film; he followed this with BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, which caused his career to take off.