|Page 1 of 8:||       |
|Index||74 reviews in total|
Montgomery Clift was supposed to play Brando's part. Elizabeth Taylor had put her own salary as a collateral for insurances purposes. It wasn't to be but the thought stayed with me throughout the film without spoiling the perverse delights's of Carson McCuller's steamy original story. Gladys Hill, adapting McCuller's book, was clearly giving John Huston exactly what he needed, she did it two other times in "The Kremlin Letter" and most memorably in "The Man Who Would Be King" John Huston has traveled through many different universes throughout his career. Sometimes he merely visited with a fantastic inquisitive eye and his masterful hand. He was never one to judge, he seem to find redeeming sides even in the, apparently, unredeemable. Here he seems to observe this peculiar world from a distance and what he gives us is a brilliantly cinematic glimpse into the unmentionable. In lesser hands this would have been an heavy, turgid melodrama in Huston's hands is a brilliantly heavy, stunningly turgid, intelligent melodrama. Brando is terrific in one of his most uncomfortable performances. You sense he is a time bomb that stopped clicking. Elizabeth Taylor throws herself into the part with such gusto that keeps the proceedings not merely high but in flames - this was her messy wives period, Virginia Woolf and Zee - The shots of her beautifully round behind bouncing up and down her horse's saddle is a funny reminder of her National Velvet days. So far, far away. Here, her casual cruelty is so totally amoral that verges on innocence. Julie Harris's performance is nothing short of sensational and Zorro David as her loyal Anacleto starts as a caricature and ends as one of the stalwarts of the piece. The great John Huston had cinematographer Aldo Tonti to translate this kinky universe into a stunning, steamy masterpiece.
"Reflections in a Golden Eye" was recognized by John Huston himself as his most important film of his late period along with "The Man who would be a King". While generally the later is accepted as his masterpiece "Reflections in a Golden Eye" is misunderstood as Huston's "misfire", as a "flop", an opinion with which I tend to disagree. What we have here is a good drama whose story is based on a book by Carson McCullers, featuring superb performances from Marlon Brando who plays a U.S. Army Major in an isolated military fort somewhere in the south, who gradually discovers his homosexuallity and Liz Taylor, simply great here in the role of his cheating wife. The film, which is basically a serious drama, turns out to be something of a cynical human comedy, due to "ridiculousness" of all of it's characters and the way the story is told by film's director - John Huston. Overall it's an intelligent film whose main theme is repression and ultimate frustration of desire with it's tragic consequences. 8/10
Reflections in a Golden Eye came out at an interesting transitional
period for gay people. The Code that had dominated what could and could
not be shown on the screen was just being lifted. That Code had
succeeded in making gay people all but invisible by Hollywood
standards. But it was two years before the Stonewall Rebellion which
gave the gay rights movement a political voice.
Originally Montgomery Clift was scheduled to do this film with three time screen partner Elizabeth Taylor, but Clift died before the film started shooting. Marlon Brando took his place and in my opinion gave a very underrated performance as the repressed latent homosexual Major married to Elizabeth Taylor.
Brando and Taylor dusted off a couple of southern accents previously used in films, Brando from Sayonara and Taylor from Raintree County. But the characters here are vastly different from the characters portrayed in both of those other films.
Although certainly given Clift's background he was eminently qualified to play a repressed gay man, I'm not sure he would have been the type to have played an authority figure like Major Penderton here. Brando was far more the type. The part of the wife was Taylor made for Liz and she went to town with it.
I wonder what those people who want to keep gays out of the military would say about Brando. Brando's burgeoning homosexuality is finding an outlet in a raging crush on a handsome private played by Robert Forster. Forster during his off hours likes to walk and ride horses in the buff and sneaks into Brando's house to play with Liz Taylor's lingerie. Liz is having an affair with Brando's immediate superior Brian Keith who has an invalid and mentally disturbed wife in Julie Harris. And Harris spends most of her time with her very effeminate Filipino houseboy, Zorro David.
Of course this is a recipe for tragedy and tragedy does come. Author Carson McCullers, herself a lesbian, created some unforgettable characters here.
Reflections in a Golden Eye was way before its time. Today the film and Director John Huston would have gotten far better reviews than the film did in 1967.
Underrated little classic here. The setting is a small southern army base
and behind the formality of peacetime military life is a hotbed of sexual
repressions and obsessions. Elizabeth Taylor is wonderfully overripe as the
Major's unfaithful wife. Her hilarious party food monologue is a career
highlight. Marlon Brando as the macho Major she calls "prissy" does an
amazing job with a role that requires him to be all emotionally buttoned up
while just barely keeping a lid on an obsession he has with a serviceman
The real standout in the cast is Brian Keith. He creates a dimensional character out of a man cut off from his feelings who one day is forced to confront them. In this unusual but endlessly engrossing movie, he is a marvel.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This highly disturbing look at sexuality was way,way,way ahead of it's time in 1952 when Carson McCullers wrote the novel, let alone in 1967 when John Huston was bold enough to bring this to the screen. It concerns a group of people on a Southern army base in the 50's on the verge of sexual discovery and insanity. Marlon Brando plays a repressed homosexual married to the slatternly over sexed dimwit daughter(Elizabeth Taylor)of the army post General. She teases him with taunts over his "lack of interest in her" while she is having an affair with another officer Brian Keith. Brian is married to Julie Harris who has cut of her nipples with garden shears after a miscarriage (symbolically ending her female identification and interest in sex)and now lives in her bedroom, entertained by her effeminate Filipino houseboy as they watercolor, dream of escaping reality and listening to classical music. Meanwhile Brando becomes crazily obsessed with a handsome enlisted (and psychotic) man (Robert Foster) who rides naked on a horse in the woods and eventually begins to tease Brando with sexual nuances. But Foster also is sneaking into Taylor's room at night and doing something (I can not say it here, but it is solo and involves her panties) by her bed while she is in her usual drunken/pills induced stupors. Eventually all this Fruedian psychosis ends in the final explosive scene, a murder. I liked this film because it delves into dark subjects we rarely see on film, the actors are amazing (especially Brando), the photography is top notch and the extremely well written script drips in Southern Gothic guilt, symbolism and remorse (but no redemption). Two scenes that sent chills up my spine was Brando standing in the pouring rain caressing the secretly picked up candy wrapper Foster dropped, as he stares aggressively at Foster entering the barracks to take a shower and the final scene as the camera madly jumps around the room accompanied by one character's horrified screams and another literally gone insane. One of the most fascinating psychological films I have ever seen. NOTE: This film along with another Taylor vehicle "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" I've been told by a film scholar,were the catalysts for the rating system that emerged in 1968.
The time is late 1948 and the setting is a U.S. Army post in Georgia,
bordering on a forest preserve
A Southern amoral wife called Leonora (Elizabeth Taylor) finds a way for her stream desire in an adulterous affair with Lt. Col. Langdon (Brian Keith), carried on almost openly
Leonora gives aperture to her forcefulness and vigor in a passion for horses and riding She is attached to a handsome white horse she calls Firebird and she provokes her husband by telling him that the animal is indeed a stallion with the emotional nature of man...
Leonora's husband (Marlon Brando) is a devious, insecure, impotent Army major, a hidden homosexual preoccupied with an unsociable, lonely rider who canters around the field in the nude and whose sexual emotional stress is diminished, secretively, at the bedside of the major's wife holding her clothes and looking fixedly at her marvelous hot body
Private Williams (Robert Forster) is another lonely man fascinated by the fiery Leonora and her thoughtful and gentle comments to him He takes to visiting the Penderton house at night looking attentively in the windows, observing with total recall and complete joy Leonora's nakedness, but also watching the Major in his study
Keith's neurotic wife (Julie Harris) is well aware of her husband's affair with Leonora but she only feels well from her close friendship with her houseboy, Anacleto (Zorro David), an affected companion who shares her penchant for the arts and is in every way the opposite of her abrupt, strong husband
Flavored with bitter insinuations and insulting sarcasms, Brando and Taylor's few scenes have enough flames to burn the silver screen He's a tormented human being while she's delicious but shrill and insensitive Aware of her physical beauty she fights back when she's rejected, instigating him with her impudent, insolent, shameless manner that offend his very being
Marlon Brando's career was on a downward slide when he appeared in "Reflections in a Golden Eye" (***1/2). His previous film was Charles Chaplain's disastrous "A Countess from Hong Kong" in which he gave one of his worst performances. In "Eye" he proved that as an actor he was still capable of being as daring and surprising as he once was as a sexually repressed Army Major. Widely misunderstood at the time of its release, John Huston's adaptation of the Carson McCullers novel is a witty and provocative tragicomedy in which none of the characters succeeds in escaping from their own self-imposed prisons. There have probably never been two more incompatible married couples in the movies than the brooding introverted officer played by Brando and his bawdy, outgoing wife, a fine part for Elizabeth Taylor at her funniest and most natural. Complementing them are Brian Keith as a rather dim but basically good-natured fellow officer who is having an affair with Taylor, and Julie Harris as his hypersensitive invalid wife. Zorro David also scores as her pretentiously effete Filopino houseboy. One of the many fascinating things about this film is watching how these characters interrelate without ever making a real connection. Director Huston finds a great deal of humor (most of it intentional, I'm convinced) in this sometimes hard-to-take, but fascinating film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Brando, Taylor and Huston. WOW...the greatest actor ever, sharing
screen space with one of the greatest actresses ever and both being
directed by one of the greatest directors ever, is something that
should be savoured.
Reflections in a golden eye, is one of those movies which strikes you in the gut for showing life as the miserable bitch it can be. First the movie is a sold effort and leaves you feeling a lil shaken about life's complexities and how we have no say in it.
Taylor gives a great performance as the shrill / sassy / sensitive / sarcastic wife who feels nothing but contempt for her husband but can be very nice to others in her life.
Brando delivers one of his great performances and it is a shame and a blot that this act has not been accorded the status it deserves. No Oscar nomination, I can't believe it. A repressed homosexual could have been a caricature, it would have been a putting off experience for the viewer. Brando plays his role in such a way that he is able to convey the anguish that his character will be feeling. The little nuances that he brings are astonishing and so very real and simple. This movie contains according to me the greatest breakdown scene ever put on film - when Brando is thrown by the horse and proceeds to whip the horse and then subsequently cries / breaks down, the emotion is scary. I had goose bumps when I watched it.
This film was a huge failure when it was released in 1967. The audiences I don't think were prepared for a film like this. The remarkable thing about this movie is that there is not one happy person in the entire film. Brando is a repressed homosexual lusting after a private in the army, having his own troubles. Taylor his wife is having an affair with a Col and not happy with her married life. The private is lusting after Taylor and has a creepy way of satisfying his lust he steals into Taylor's bedroom in the night and smells her clothes.
This film along with a host of other Brando films from the 60s are now getting reevaluated and getting the recognition that they deserves. Watch the film but don't expect to come out all happy and gay (pun intended), this film will tell you that there are places and scenarios where misery and tragedy go hand in hand. Happiness is a mirage for the people living in those places.
God knows what this picture looked like on the printed page--or, indeed, what this cast of talented actors were thinking when they first read it. Elizabeth Taylor probably thought it a hoot. I certainly did, but really...Julie Harris as a woebegone colonel's wife, living on a southern Army base in the 1950s with her sexually-estranged husband and a flamboyant houseboy, who has used pruning shears to--oh never mind. It's really about Marlon Brando as a sexually-repressed major, married to flirtatious belle Taylor but secretly lusting for stud-soldier Robert Forster (who rides his horse "barebacked and bare-assed"). Is it camp, serious, heartfelt or just terrible? Actually, it's all of the above, which is not only what kept me watching but keeps me returning. The moody film, based on Carson McCullers' Gothic novel, feels tampered with, muted in spots where it should be played to the hilt yet overdrawn when it should be subtle, yet this is part of its erratic appeal. Aldo Tonti's vivid cinematography (most especially in the full-color re-release print) is amazing, as is Toshiro Mayuzumi's hyperbolic score. John Huston directed, boldly and with flourish. It's a glorious mess. *** from ****
This movie isn't for everybody. Huston, Taylor, Brando and the rest of
the cast took some serious artistic risks back in 1967, and a lot of
people didn't like the product; 50 years on, a lot of people still
If one comes to it cold, hearing only that it is only a movie about "a closeted homosexual in the military", which is true of the Brando character, and expects some kind of serious dramatic narrative experience - like for example in "The Sergeant" which also came out in 1968 - the approach of "Reflections", which I think is not unlike that of a Beckett play, will be a surprise, and one might say, "this is a weird movie - it's not a good drama."
But I believe that would be a mistake. I don't mean that one kind of approach is "better" than the other, only that different kinds of movies with different kinds of artistic excellence as their goals shouldn't be measured by the same yardstick.
The action of this film is pretty much indifferent to place and setting; it doesn't need to be in the South and it doesn't need to be on a military base. It is sometime in the period from 1945-1960 when people of privilege spent their evenings at each other's houses, playing cards and drinking way more hard liquor than today. In fact the time and setting blurred in my view into a sort of dreamlike background, not demanding to be like a real place or time.
There are two military officers. There are their wives, whose thwarted lives are filled by avocations and disorders - sex, alcohol, and horsewomanship, or art, classical music, and depression. Their wives have admirers. One is the enlisted man played by Robert Forster, who elicits and then upsets one category after another. Another is the Filipino servant played by Zorro David (his only movie ever) with flamboyant swishiness, but is he really gay or are we being tempted to overassume? It's only what we see and judge, and neither can be trusted.
All have secrets, concealing who they really are while trying to figure out who the other people are, sometimes successfully, more often not. People read people and situations incorrectly and act upon their bad understanding and send the activity off in another direction. When people think they are unobserved they act much differently, comforting themselves in ways that are not provided for in the conventions that surround them. To borrow the thoughts of a character, they are all square pegs trying to deal with the round holes they have been hammered into by others or themselves.
And if that all reads sort of like the universal experience of people, that's sort of the point, I think.
I don't think it's perfect, but every time I try to pick a flaw I start to wonder if the artists didn't intend it just that way for a reason. Some detractors have noted that the Brando character's accent is just incomprehensible at times - I turned on closed captioning eventually. But then at one of those times he was giving instructions to a subordinate, who then doesn't carry them out properly, so was this on purpose? I didn't understand why the frenzied camera work in the final scene was done that way either. But was it meant to convey something? These people are not easily dismissed.
|Page 1 of 8:||       |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||External reviews||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|