Thursday, December 27, 2007

Essential Cinema - 15

The Night Of The Iguana

Richard Burton
Ava Gardner
Deborah Kerr
Sue Lyon
Skip Ward
Grayson Hall

John Huston

Anthony Veiller
John Huston
(from the Tennessee Williams play)

Gabriel Figueroa

A shamed priest finds anonymity in Mexico where he wrestles with his past while serving as tour guide to a bus full of vacationing church women.

What happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico. Mexico has become a fantasy land that folks escape to these days. A place where cares, worries and responsibilities cannot follow you. This is a film that fosters that ideal. Cut off from the trappings of button-down 1950s American society, the characters find themselves in a world seduced by cabana boys, wanton desires and tropical sunsets.

The dialog of this film still has the affect of the stage play from which it was based. Like "A Street Car Named Desire" and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof", the characters in this film are struggling with inner turmoil sprinkled with sexual frustration. The fact that the lines are delivered by the likes of Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr make it an enjoyable film to watch.

One of the better performances is turned in by Grayson Hall (whom I had never heard of prior to this film). Her performance as the repressed and bitchy Miss Fellows is fascinating to watch and she more than holds her own with Burton and Gardner.

Most of the film is a long setup to the evening scene between Burton, Kerr and Gardner, in which their demons are discussed, exposed and cast away. It is very good acting although it takes a long time to get there. Comic relief in the film is provided by Skip Ward (the essential early 60s screen idol persona) as the bus driver and the two beach boys that continually dance around Gardner's character while shaking maracas. When the likes of Burton, Tennessee Williams and John Huston get together to make a film, it is bound to be worth watching. Especially, now that I am older and my life experience make me appreciate what the film is all about.