New Orleans was the site of many of Lillian Hellman's works. In this, she again scratches the underbelly of the Crescent City and comes up with a spiteful slash at chicanery in the Deep South. Basing the script on her l960 Broadway play, Hellman spins the yarn of lazy Martin, who goes back to New Orleans with his child-bride, Mimieux, and is welcomed with...read more
New Orleans was the site of many of Lillian Hellman's works. In this, she again scratches the underbelly of the Crescent City and comes up with a spiteful slash at chicanery in the Deep South. Basing the script on her l960 Broadway play, Hellman spins the yarn of lazy Martin, who goes
back to New Orleans with his child-bride, Mimieux, and is welcomed with open arms by his unmarried sisters, Hiller and Page. They live in genteel poverty and hope that Martin will help them. He tells his siblings that his once-prosperous shoe factory in Illinois has gone bankrupt but he managed to
save money and he proves it by giving them both some expensive trinkets, as well as purchasing two tickets to Europe so they can have "the grand tour." Page loves her brother dearly, perhaps a bit too dearly, for her adoration borders on incest. Hiller is more objective and wonders how it is that
Martin managed to extract money and whether those gains have been ill-gotten. Martin will not divulge the source of his money, so both sisters become curious. Mimieux thinks that Martin may be dating a woman behind her back, a fact Martin denies. Mimieux's mother, Tierney, is a well-to-do woman
who is having an affair with her black chauffeur, Silvera. The two of them visit Martin while Mimieux and Page eavesdrop. They hear Martin talking about a real estate scam wherein he bilked Gates, the husband of Nan Martin, one of Dean Martin's former mistresses. Page doesn't like Mimieux and
would like to see her out of the way. She convinces the naive Mimieux to call Gates and reveal Dean Martin's duplicity. Then Martin and Martin are ambushed by toughs employed by Gates and their money is taken. Later, Dean Martin is licking his wounds when he returns to the family house. At first,
he thinks that it was Mimieux who betrayed him, then he realizes that Mimieux was only Page's tool. He walks out on Page to try to find Mimieux. At the same time, Hiller is disgusted with her sister and exits simultaneously, leaving an angry Page behind to sink in the emotional morass she has
Lurid, talky, with hints of miscegenation, the aforementioned incest, and several other doings, the movie was softened considerably from the raw stage presentation, perhaps with the thought that mass audiences couldn't take the reality of what was on Broadway. This was another typical Hollywood
decision made at the expense of the intelligence of the rest of the country. Page was brilliant and Hiller, in a less showy role, was excellent. Dean Martin was much better than anyone expected and showed he had a range beyond crooning and acting as a foil for Jerry Lewis. Nominated by the Academy
for Best Costume Design.
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