Loosely based on the William Faulkner novel, this movie follows the lives and passions of the Compsons: a once-proud Southern family now just barely scraping by both financially and ...
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Loosely based on the William Faulkner novel, this movie follows the lives and passions of the Compsons: a once-proud Southern family now just barely scraping by both financially and emotionally. Howard passes the time in a bottle; his brother Bengy is child in a man's body; sister Caddy has come crawling home after years of being kept by a string of "admirers". Only Jason, the cruel, cold-hearted adopted head of the family, and Quentin, who was abandoned at birth by Caddy, have the fire and the fury needed to put the family back on its feet again. Written by
This is "based on" William Faulkner's classic novel, The Sound and The Fury. If you were wondering how they managed to get the nifty incomprehensible narrative onto the big screen...they didn't, instead opting for all the clichés of the Steamy South.
Of the two Quentins in the novel, the filmmakers decided to do away with male Quentin and instead focus on Caddy's illegitimate daughter. This did not upset me as much as it does some fans of the novel- all Quentin really does is lust after his sister. The scene in which the incestuous desire is most apparent is transposed to the big scene, except it's girl Quentin (Joanne Woodward) being forced to say her sleazy travelling circus artist's name by her "uncle" Jason (Yul Brynner).
In this film, the novel is re-done as Quentin's coming-of-age. Jason is now adopted rather than being her blood uncle so the writers can have their cake and eat it. Quentin is Jason's only hope to save his adopted family's good name: his adopted sister Caddy (Margaret Leighton)is an ageing nympho; one brother is an alcoholic; and the other one, Benjy, is a mentally-retarded mute. The parents were no good either.
It's almost a parody of Southern Literature: nymphos, lushes, incest, lust, and it's quite entertaining on this level. However, the casting choices were poor. Joanne Woodward has a lovely Southern accent but she was pushing thirty when she played seventeen-year-old Quentin, making her look more like an idiotic woman rather than a schoolgirl (although this family are a bunch of misfits). Yul Brynner does not exactly come to mind when you think of a Southern brute but he is suitably brutish and sensual. Jason in the book was hardly sensual but the film-makers need their romance.
Margaret Leighton isn't that bad as Caddy. It's not clear why her brothers would be so infatuated with her but she fills the role of decadent mother quite well.
Whoever is playing the travelling circus man is risible, as is the person who wrote the dialogue. We get a bunch of clichés, pseudo-meaningful lines and illogical flirtation. It all looks like somebody filmed a dud Tennessee Williams play.
If you're looking to punish a student too lazy to read the novel, please show them this film. Unless you desperately need your fix of steamy Southern melodrama, I would return to Tennessee Williams. Poor William Faulkner must have got a bit of a shock when he saw this.
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