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 ... See full summary »
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Peter Mark Richman
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
My all-time favorite Southern movie! Highly underrated! I saw this film one summer afternoon as a teenager and spent the next several years searching for it in the local TV guide to no avail--nor was it available on video (still isn't!). Despite the PBS host who referred to it as "more sound than fury," I was knocked for a loop by the whole atmosphere created in this movie, which is very loosely based on the William Faulkner novel and the Compson characters in general. A couple years ago the True Stories movie channel (?) played it and I grabbed it on tape! My only complaint is that it is a Cinemascope feature and should be played in letterbox format to display the fine '50s-style clear-as-crystal cinematography to its maximum advantage. This is a movie that clocks you over the head with the soundtrack immediately, and the music defines the settings and characters throughout. Bear in mind that this is NOT a slavish interpretation of the mind-ripping book (not even close) nor could it be given its original release date! However, some of the characters are well-represented and even a few lines spoken word-for-word, and the production does an excellent job of capturing the heated Southern intensity of the original story. Joanne Woodward plays young Quentin Compson and the movie revolves around her teenage compulsion to connect with her mother (tall Margaret Leighton wonderfully cast as the wornout, dragged-down Caddy returning home after seventeen years' absence) and escape her cold, sarcastic, pitiless uncle, the "keeper," to a life she imagines will be flavored with love and freedom. Yul Brynner, cast as Jason Compson (not the book version--that guy was nearly insane), is perfect in the role of Quentin's enemy uncle. He captures the character's seething anger, always on the verge of rising to the surface and exploding. At the same time he is a person with a powerful sense of responsibility, and it is truly enjoyable to watch him struggle to keep his highly dysfunctional family in some semblance of order. A few familiar faces from the book include Dilsey (Ethel Waters in a superior performance), strong, softhearted and stressed by the Compson downfall, and little Luster, always put to taking care of huge half-witted Benjy (Jack Warden, who works to capture a very intense and disturbed personality behind a blank expression). Quentin's other uncle, Howard, keeps his father's drinking tradition alive as well as the eternal unhealthy fascination of the Compson boys for sister Caddy; Jason's Cajun mother just stays in bed most of the day, longsuffering and tiresome to all. I love the way this movie features vignettes of the individual lives these people lead, and the way they intersect without ever fully connecting. Anger, passion, frailty, loyalty--all against this wonderful backdrop of decrepit mansions and closeminded small-town malice. I refuse to complain about the way it strays from the novel because as a movie it stands on its own, a separate work, and tremendously enjoyable. Recommended!
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