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This play by Arthur Miller was filmed by Sidney Lumet in France, but
why? Lumet brings us the gritty and dark world of immigrant
longshoreman Eddie Carbone (Raf Vallone) and his family ... wife
Maureen Stapleton and her niece Carol Lawrence. Carbone is involved in
illegally bringing two Italians (cousins of Stapleton) into the US and
getting them jobs on the wharfs of New York City. But something goes
very wrong when the younger man (Jean Sorel) starts to get involved
with Lawrence and Carbone's jealousy and lust for the girl come to the
All the main characters live in a small and squalid apartment, the perfect setting for the pent up lust and anger that fuels the actions of the characters. The more Carbone lusts for the girl, the more he despises the young Italian and his "foreign" ways, hinting at his homosexuality because he is blond and likes to sing.
Vallone is superb as the volatile and treacherous Eddie Carbone who finally is consumed by his raging passions. Stapleton is solid as the aggrieved wife who remains loyal even as she slowly begins to understand her husband's actions. Jean Sorel is terrific as the young Italian as is Raymond Pellegrin as his older brother.
The real surprise here is Carol Lawrence as young Catherine. Generally considered a musical performer (WEST SIDE STORY), she turns in an amazing performance the innocent girl who finally comes of age.
Co-stars include Morris Carnovsky as the compassionate lawyer, Vincent Gardenia as the grocer, Harvey Lembeck, Frank Campanella, and Mickey Knox as co-workers.
I saw this when it was first released, but I've never seen it since, not even on Turner or AMC. I'd love to know why it sank out of sight. Perhaps because Raf Vallone was virtually unknown in the USA? (Maybe if it had starred Van Heflin, who originated the lead role on Broadway.) I am glad to see a new production of it is underway. With Miller's recent death, maybe it will attract the attention it deserves as Miller's homage to Greek tragedy adapted to the lives of "ordinary" working people and to modern stagecraft. After more than 40 years, I finally saw a stage production last night, by the University of Oregon Theater Arts Dept. For a college production it was more than adequate, despite the awful acoustics of their theater. The young actor who played Eddie Carbone was quite good. But it whetted my appetite for a professional production. It's available in VHS on Amazon, but I don't want to buy it, just watch it.
Based on a play by Arthur Miller, the film is very typical of its era (where many such classic plays were adapted for the screen) but also characteristic of director Lumet - who was constantly striving to push barriers (among the themes touched upon here are incest and homosexuality!) and always put his greatest emphasis on the acting. In fact, the cast here is an eclectic but surprisingly effective mix of American, French and Italian actors (though set in Brooklyn, the film was actually shot in France!) - with Raf Vallone especially impressive in his difficult role. The film's dock-side setting (gloomily photographed by Michel Kelber) recalls, to a certain extent, ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) - though this is more of a domestic melodrama; still, the final confrontation between Vallone and Raymond Pellegrin (with its tragic aftermath) reaches a fine pitch of tension.
A View From The Bridge transcends its stage-play roots to give an earthy feel for its neighborhood and its neighbors. This is high praise considering the play is one of Arthur Miller's very best to begin with. The chemistry is devastatingly hot between Raf Vallone and his illicit love for niece Carol Lawrence who, at first admires him, but later turns on him with disgust. Maureen Stapleton is magnificent as Vallone's desperate wife. Vincent Gardenia is disarmingly young in an early role. The cinematography seems to peel the layers of this blue-collar area like an onion, and the score is simply perfect. A View from the Bridge is a neglected classic that needs to be restored to prominence.
Although directed by American Sidney Lumet and shot on the Brooklyn
docks in Red Hook, A View From The Bridge is a French production with
some shooting in Rome. My guess is that Arthur Miller couldn't get the
financing here and next to On The Waterfront, A View From The Bridge
looks kind of cheap. It sure has an international cast though.
Raf Vallone stars as Eddie Carbone a veteran dock worker who lives with wife Maureen Stapleton in Red Hook near his work and their niece Carol Lawrence who made her big screen debut here. As is apparently the custom they help out friends and family from the old country which in this case is Sicily. French players Raymond Pellegrin and Jean Sorel are brothers and related distantly to the Carbones. They arrive here like so many other illegals looking for work, maybe to send money back home like Pellegrin does for his family. Or like Sorel he wants to immigrate here permanently.
The attraction between Sorel and Lawrence is instant. Always in the back of your mind is that Sorel is thinking this is a fast track to citizenship. But it's in the front of your mind that Vallone is building up an unreasoning hatred of Sorel because of his attraction for his niece. Lawrence either is naive or just puts it out of her mind, but Stapleton is seeing it all too clear.
When Budd Schulberg wrote On The Waterfront, part of it was an expiation and justification of Schulberg being a friendly witness at the House Un American Activities. Miller was a most unfriendly witness and his play on the docks affirms the code that stool pigeons are the lowest form of life.
A View From The Bridge was done on Broadway with Van Heflin playing Eddie Carbone. I would like to have seen him doing it as Heflin was one of the best and most under-appreciated actors around. But you can't deny that Raf Vallone authentically Italian is just great in this role.
Sidney Lumet who seemed to shoot all of his films in the city he loved shows a different and at times terrifying side of New York. A View From The Bridge could use a remake, especially with the topic of immigration reform center stage among issues now.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film hit the theaters at a time when Arthur Miller's prestige in
the American Theater was at its zenith. I remember some critics
quibbling over alterations to the original stage play that were made by
Sidney Lumet in adapting it for the screen. Sadly, these considerations
blinded many to the truly classic quality of the film. Raf Vallone was
unusually effective in the lead role wherein his heavily accented
English lent greater authenticity to the characterization than would
have been likely with any contemporary American star. Lumet's largely
New York based cast fired their performances with the kind of intensity
that one might expect from the work you find in the films of Elia
Kazan, Martin Ritt, as well as in this director's own long list of
"A View from the Bridge" offers the starkly dramatic portrait of a hero who, like so many figures in classic Greek Tragedy, is a man of many admirable qualities ultimately brought down by fatal weaknesses in his own character. Traditionally, the Greek tradition was to deal with high-born heroes like kings, divinities, and the like. Miller's variation on the theme was to give us a tragic hero who was a common man, a blue collar longshoreman in a gritty working class world. The feel of powerful physicality that you would expect to find in such a man is palpable with Vallone and lends great tension to the film as one becomes aware of the man's dangerously volatile temper.
The magnificently stark black and white photography, which is reminiscent of "On the Waterfront", flawlessly evokes the gritty world of the story. It is all so hard hitting and brilliantly written and directed that one can only wonder why it has been absent from home entertainment release for so many years. This film is shamefully overdue for a high quality DVD release! Why are so many good films thus ignored?
I just watched the film after not seeing it for more than 40 years. The
screenplay, the acting, the B&W cinematography are excellent. All of
the actors- lead and supporting are excellent, especially Raf Vallone
and Carol Lawrence.
The only negative is not the film, but the quality of the VHS tape. Perhaps I shouldn't complain, since the video is listed as unavailable. I bought the tape, listed as new, from Movies Unlimited through Amazon. It presents the film in total, but there is bad static in certain places and the picture could have been sharper. Nevertheless, it is very worthwhile to buy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Extremely well acted film version of the Arthur Miller play. Raf Vallone, in a ferocious performance, is a frustrated Brooklyn dock worker in love with the niece he & wife Maureen Stapleton have raised. When cousins from Italy come to visit, all hell breaks loose as one of them falls for the niece. This modern day Greek tragedy directed by Sidney Lumet is powerful, tense and very exciting. Vallone is astounding and he's matched by Stapleton, who is excellent as a brutally honest truth-teller. Her eyes are wide open as she sees her husband descend into madness lusting after the one thing he can never have. The stark cinematography is by Michel Kelber, a Ukranian who'd been shooting films since the early 1930s. Harvey Lembeck, Jean Sorel, and Morris Carnovsky co-star. Raymond Pellegrin is a stand-out as Marco and Carol Lawrence is the niece.
Eddie Carbone (Raf Vallone) a dockworker on the Brooklyn Navy yard
accepts his wife's two cousins into his home so they may work and earn
enough to return to Sicily prosperous. However when the younger brother
Rodolpho (Jean Sorel) gets cozy with Eddie's beloved niece sparks fly
and tragedy ensues.
Having never seen the original Miller play on which this is based I cannot compare this 1962 film adaptation by Sidney Lumet but from the film alone I can say it is quite an achievement. The low budget is obvious and many a time one feels as if they are watching an old television movie. But at the same time it adds another layer to the raw atmosphere of the piece. This is the Brooklyn of the 1950s where many struggle for a meager wage and are bound to the docks. Only culture and their traditions keep them alive and this film captures it all.
The cheap look also puts more emphasis on the actors to give their best and boy do they deliver, I could not account for 1 bad performance in this film with the leads routinely strong, particularly Vallone adding an authentic Italian touch, to the extras dotted with many true blue New York blue collar actors like Frank Campanella and Vincent Gardenia.
Being from an Italian family I can say this film captures many of the eccentricities and machinations of an Italian household from the dominant masculinity to family talks and fruit at the end of the meal. Lumet captures the cramped atmosphere so reminisced and glorified in many homes but here turned cold and repugnant due to the material of the piece. The film brilliantly draws the contrast between the old world Italian immigrant mindset of making and saving to go home (as expressed in the brother Marco in his strictly workman's cloths) and that of the younger, new immigrants who come to America to look for opportunity and pleasures not found at home (as expressed in Jean Sorrel with his bolo tie and Texas shirt). The film deals with old world adapting to new world in a larger passion play of lust and betrayal with emotions so sustained that shift to become so open and raw one is left gasping.
Just goes to show what can be accomplished with good actors and a fine director, another under regarded jewel in Sidney Lumet's crown.
I saw this film in Montevideo, Uruguay, back in 1962. It was a subtitled version with English and Italian language. Not a word in french. The players were Raf Vallone (Italian) and Jean Sorel (French, but usually working in Italian films). Both characters, were Italian immigrants living and working in the Port of New York, and the other players were naturally Americans, like Maureen Stapleton and Carol Lawrence (the Broadway star of "West Side Story" in a rare appearance in films). So, the picture looked like an American film, directed on location in New York by Sidney Lumet, but somehow is featured like a French-Italian movie. There must be a French dubbed version as well as an Italian one, but the international version was indeed an English language version known as "A View from the Bridge" and not at all "Vu du pont". It was a powerful Lumet film, well acted and correctly adapted from the famous Miller's play.
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