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Vittorio De Sica,
Ephraim Cabot is an old man of amazing vitality who loves his New England farm with a greedy passion. Hating him, and sharing his greed, are the sons of two wives Cabot has overworked into early graves. Most bitter is Eben, whose mother had owned most of the farm, and who feels who should be sole heir. When the old man brings home a new wife, Anna, she becomes a fierce contender to inherit the farm. Two of the sons leave when Eben gives them the fare in return for their shares of the farm. Meanwhile, Anna tries to cause some sparks by rubbing up against Eben. Written by
Ray Hamel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Anthony Perkins and Sophia Loren are absolutely gorgeous in this ca. 1840 "Western". That alone, however doesn't help a ridiculous story, with countless historically incorrect elements.
Byrl Ives is convincing as the 70-something tyrannical patriarch, an egomaniac who swears to see his 100th birthday. His wild dancing at a party he gives for his neighbors will make anyone take notice (this guy is SEVETY SIX?). Always mumbling Bible verses, he demands respect, while driving sons and friends away with his self-righteous rantings and emotional cruelties.
The love affair between Perkins and Loren at first appears absurd, but becomes believable near the end. There is plenty of drama, but not enough to feel good about. Clearly written for the stage, this story was dated even when it was filmed. Perkins whistles "My Bonnie" in the 1840s, although the song wasn't composed until 1882.
Critics knocking Sophia Lorens "command of the English language" are rather petty. I found her English flawless and completely audible. As a Neapolitan, Loren speaks a distinct dialect that often had to be dubbed into "proper Italian". Her "accent", however, hardly affects how she speaks English. As a first Generation German American, I can appreciate the efforts of those who learn English as a second, or even third or fourth language.
"Desire Under The Elms" is a drama (or even a tragedy) in the Classic Sense. For my enjoyment is was missing a logical story and an overall "pay off" for the time invested. Fans of the stars won't want to miss it, others, however, tune in at your own risk!
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