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Eugene O'Neill's updated version of the Orestaia. In New England, after the American Civil War, a war-weary Agamem--er, Ezra Mannon comes home to his unhappy wife (Christine) and loving daughter (Lavinia). But Lavinia's ex-suitor, Adam Brant, has become Christine's lover, and together Adam and Christine plot to poison Ezra. When they succeed, Lavinia turns to her brother Orin to help bring the lovers to justice, but when they succeed, Orin goes mad and his suicide note may come between Lavinia and her new suitor, Peter Niles. Written by
Nichols disclaimed screenplay credit because he only abridged the play's text and moved some scenes outdoors. Nichols first finished cut ran over four hours but was edited down to 174 minutes for its roadshow premiere. See more »
About 22 minutes into the film, Orin is standing by a bench where Lavinia is seated. He holds his hat by his side and he drops it....it just lies there on the dirt path as he sits down and he doesn't pick it up. See more »
Stark, often stilted, adaptation of O'Neill's masterwork.
Eugene O'Neill's MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA is a little over five hours long and comprises nine acts. RKO cut it down to 2 hours and 53 minutes and produced what is for all intents and purposes - a photographed stage play. As such it is often quite stiff and stilted. The sets and costumes are unimaginative. The direction is quite uneven and likewise, so is the casting. Rosalind Russell is out of her element in the first half but is fine in the second. Likewise, Michael Redgrave is rather embarrassingly bad in the first part and brilliant in the second. Katina Paxinou gives the best performance but she is hampered by her age and lack of beauty, which belies the motivations of her character and the other characters' reactions to her. Leo Genn is a block of wood. Raymond Massey does well with his three scenes. Kirk Douglas is pretty bad although Nancy Coleman does well. This needed a William Wyler behind the camera, a superb cinematographer, and a score by Steiner. We need close-ups, angles, drive, pace. The work is certainly worth watching but is very flawed. I would recommend that viewers purchase the complete five act play on video
well worth the money. The print I saw
of the RKO film was cut by fifteen minutes and was a British print screened by TCM.
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