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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>
Stagey provincial US drama tries for Greek tragedy: Perkins superb
If you imagine yourself in a 1950s New York theatre surrounded by American anti-Communists wearing narrow ties and wanting to be cultured, you'll be able to connect with this wooden, would-be Greek tragedy. If not, don't go there, and get on board with TV's the Cartwrights, who seem to inhabit identical territory and period because they were performing almost simultaneously for an audience thousands of times bigger. It's worth watching for Antony Perkins, who is superbly mixed-up as an anti-authoritarian rebel determined to secure ownership of the family farm, but driven a bit strange by anxiety, paternal neglect and the early death of his mother. See him exit his lover's garden gate, pirouetting as he goes; or spinning in place before rising from his bed. It's so graceful you barely notice. He's like an 11 year-old, changing his mind every five minutes, madly self-conflicted as a result of his irresistible lust for the maid, sorry, his father's third wife. Sophia Loren is powerful in this picture, if you can follow her English. She really occupies her part and fills her space. The passion between her and Perkins would be almost believable, if it weren't expounded in this stagey setting, with neither Loren nor Perkins exposing any skin, which just adds to the sense of attending a school play. Actually, the basic material of Desire Under The Elms is purely adult, but somehow this production renders it about as sinful as Agatha Christie.
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