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When the great potato famine hits Ireland, the diaspora begins as thousands emigrate. Among those leaving the Emerald Isle is Katie O'Neill and her husband, who decide that the promised land is South Africa and make their way there. Once there, they discover the hardships that are the reality of the homesteader experience. To complicate matters, Katie meets up with the love of her life, Paul van Riebeck. Will there be betrayal on the veldt? Written by
A really bad film wrapped up in a pretty and exotic package.
I am sure this will shock many readers, especially since she was such a popular and well-paid actress. However, I truly believe that Susan Hayward was a horrible actress--or at least she agreed to allow herself to be typecast as a horrible actress. Having seen most of her films, I can name example after example of films where she played, or shall I say over-played characters. Her acting often consisted of over-emoting and acting petulant. Don't believe me? Try watching "I Want to Live" (for which she inexplicably received an Oscar--and which was satirized by John Waters with "Female Trouble"), "David and Bathsheba", "The Conqueror", "Where Love Has Gone" and "Valley of the Dolls". All of these films are made almost hilarious due to her acting and the terrible scripts. Calling them soap opera-like is an understatement and because of this I would consider her a great 'overactress'. It's a shame, as she COULD provide a decent performance, as early in her career she was less bellicose and rather good in films like "They Won't Believe Me" and "Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman". But by the 1950s, it was all emotion and fire and not much else.
"Untamed" is yet another example of the usual Hayward formula. The film is in color and is quite glossy, features big-name supporting actors, has Hayward playing every emotion as if it's her last and her character is simply more a caricature than anyone you think could really have existed. To put it bluntly, despite the look and budget, this is a bad film...mostly due to her insane character.
When the film begins, Katie (Hayward) meets Paul (Tyrone Power). Despite them soon separating, you KNOW that they'll eventually have each other. However, very inexplicably, in the interim, she marries another man (who you just KNOW will be soon dead) and is pursued by a crazy guy (Richard Egan). It all goes on and on and on in a nice South African locale, though the film feels more like a western combined with "Peyton Place" instead of a serious film. It's also very episodic, often makes little sense and is a bit silly. The bottom line is that the film is mildly entertaining if you are looking for a laugh. But considering that it's NOT a comedy and you are not supposed to laugh at Hayward when she goes off on her screaming tirades (and it happens a lot!), it's a rather sad film. Pretty but sad.
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