In the book ,Clyde urges Roberta to stay with her parents for a while;the depiction of this farm near decay is one of the peaks of the literary work ,in the same league as French writers Zola and Maupassant.By chance,Clyde winds up on the farm ,asking his way to Roberta's father and discovers the milieu in which his girlfriend was nurtured and it strikes horror into his heart.And Clyde spends days and nights contemplating the perfect crime;but as a criminal,he is nothing but an amateur.To ease his conscience ,he thinks he's Aladdin and it's a genius who presses him to act.
The miniseries simplify all that and the fourth episode and shows Clyde and Roberta en route to the fateful lake .Considering the limitation the TV directing was working over,this part,which contains the famous scene of the drowning is better than the talky precedent episode ;the jazzy music turns into an ominous threatening score ;the night they spend in a hotel is given an Hitchcock treatment,and people who do not know the story may think that Clyde is about to murder the girl in the room.
The principal's acting ,feverish ,nervous,eaten with remorse , compares favorably with that of Monty Clift ,although he has not the American actor's inner intensity;the scene of the drowning is not really faithful to the book (neither is Stevens' ) ,for the camera does not seem to play a part when the boat capsizes .But it retains its ambiguity .These pages are very hard to transfer to the screen ,and the director does not capture the atmosphere ,which Dreiser depicts with short sentences
Many static shots of the "witnesses " ,from the station master to the man in the wood .Even when he returns to the paradise where Sondra lives ,Clyde is still in hell:the newspaper one of his pals reads scares him to death;and it's when his dream is about to come true -Sondra's parents are more sympathetic and seems to approve of their daughter's choice,in scenes more inspired by Stevens' movie than by Dreiser- that the investigators ,hot on his heels, will catch him up.
The political side is not passed over in silence,as far the law is concerned ,and there's a hint at the elections.
Virna Lisi 's beauty shines in the second half ,she's as attractive as Liz Taylor.
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