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Idabell said there was a traveling fair in the next town to Noon City: we could cut through the swamp and hitch a ride with them. We'd go to California and get jobs picking grapes and find a preacher to marry us.
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For inexplicable reasons, the scenarists of this film decided to remove those very phantasmogorical qualities that permeate Capote's novel, and lift it from a mundane portrait of a depression child sent to live with distant relatives in a crumbling plantation house.
Moreover, there are casting problems. Lothaire Bluteau is excellent as Cousin Randolph as is Anna Levine as Amy. Both seem to have drunk deeply of the absinthe of Southern Gothic, and move with assured melancholy within the dusty shadows of Skully's Landing.
There is just one serious problem with the duo: they are way too young. Thus, what possible meaning can Amy's dialog: ("Cousin Randolph--when are the good times going to come back? Can you make them come back?") mean when they are exchanged between two very good looking people under forty?! The whole premise of some 25 or 30 years having passed since they were abandoned by their former glories is undercut, and we are left to scratch our heads as to what these two relative youngsters are doing sequestered away in this moldering mansion.
April Turner as the negress servant "Zoo" is politically correctified beyond either recognition or any connection with Capote's conception of her, and her characterization consists in little more than being an updated and very sit-comish "Aunt Jemima" type.
The central character of Joel on which the whole story pivots, is so important that one is just dumbfounded at the mis-casting of David Speck in the role. Master Speck is an attractive youngster, and he would have been just the candidate if Disney were doing a remake of "Old Yeller".
But he is badly out of place here, failing to convey Joel's poetical, quasi-mystical psychic drift with his matter of fact, mono-tonal line readings, which convince one that the director Rocksavage gave him no understanding of the character.
These demerits, when compounded by the complete absence of Joel's illness/delirium (which forms such a key piece of the novel's climax)in which the sinister carnival midget, Miss Wisteria seeks Joel out at the mansion, thoroughly cripple the piece. (What marvelous visuals this sequence might have made for--but alas, we'll never know.) More's the pity too, for the physical production in on the mark, with outstanding art direction evidenced in the decadent Sully mansion. Mr. Capote's more tolerant fans may still find enough of interest, here, however, to warrant a viewing.
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