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Hot diggity dog, is this a great movie! I'm surprised that so few people have heard of it, neither would I if I hadn't found it going cheap.
The story deals with your usual southern redneck town full of repressed and frustrated people, typical Williams territory. In this it does a great deal better than such Hollywood formula fare as Mississippi Boring, I mean Burning.
Vanessa Redgrave isn't too convincing as an Italian-American, she's just Vanessa Redgrave; but what the hey, that's just right here. She plays (what else) an abused and unhappy grocer trapped in a loveless marriage. Her invalid husband is incapable of loving her; we might be tempted to feel sorry for him, but we know (which she doesn't) that he was responsible for burning her father to death many years before. The image of fire recurs throughout the movie, both as a symbol of sexual passion and as a harbinger of fearsome cruelty. If we recall that Orpheus descended into Hades, this ashcan of a town is effectively hell.
Kevin Anderson is very convincing as a southern drifter who conceals a kind heart. Not only that, he does a great job of howling out those Delta blues to his trusty ol' guitar, almost operatic in quality. You just know that something is going to happen to him.
Williams combines his usual erotic concerns with a story that involves the Klan, lynching and redneck hypocrisy - and it makes for a more compelling story. I've seen Streetcar and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and I reckon that this is a better movie. The only problem is that the title is too abstract, its relation to the story is too tenuous; something more direct would attract more viewers.
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