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The Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon has been living in Mexico for two years, working as a tourist guide for a cut-rate travel agency. Shannon lost his church and was defrocked after taking liberties with one of his parishioners. He's now accompanying a group of middle-aged ladies from Texas whose leader, Judith Fellowes, is keeping a close eye on her teenage ward, Charlotte Goodall, who definitely has an interest in the former priest. After Charlotte and Shannon spend the night together, Fellowes is out to have him fired and to keep her from communicating with his employer, Shannon strands them at a remote hotel run by his good friend Maxine Faulk. It's the arrival of Hannah Jelkes and her elderly grandfather that has the greatest impact however. Her approach to life and love forces Shannon to deal with his demons and re-evaluate his life. Written by
The original Broadway production of "The Night of the Iguana," which made its Broadway debut on December 28, 1961 and ran for 316 performances, was Tennessee Williams last hit play. Iguana was nominated for the 1962 Tony Award for Best Play. See more »
A boom mic hits Burton's Shannon on the head in a scene with Deborah Kerr. See more »
T. Lawrence Shannon:
What has that got to do with the price of rice in China? What has that got to do with the price of coffee in Brazil?
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John Huston's film version of the Tennessee Williams play is one of his most underrated. As happened too often, Williams found his play diluted and compromised on its way to the big screen. However, enough of his memorable characters and beautiful dialogue remain to make this film well worth seeing. As the protagonist, a defrocked Episcopal priest at odds with his own sexual desires, Richard Burton gives a performance that is all over the place: witty at times, somnambulant at others, wildly over-the-top more often than not. But Williams always saved his best writing for the female characters in his plays and Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr create indelible portraits of a pair of women handling the onset of middle-age in wildly differing ways. Gardner, worn-looking but still beautiful, simply gives the finest performance of her career. Sexy and very funny, she makes you wish she had gotten more juicy three-dimensional roles to play. Kerr is, in a word, magnificent--perhaps the best performance in an amazingly consistent career studded with fantastic performances. She deserved every award given that year (none of which, to my knowledge, she won). The atmospheric photography (in beautiful black & white), an evocative musical score, and a terrific supporting performance by Grayson Hall (a funny but scary picture of repressed homosexuality) are all plusses.
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