Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, a trouble-prone drifter trying to go straight, wanders into a small Mississippi town looking for a simple and honest life but finds himself embroiled with problem-filled women.
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Having fled New Orleans to avoid arrest, the undeniably alluring Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier (Val), a trouble-prone guitar-playing drifter, wanders into a small Mississippi town aiming to go straight and lead a quiet, simple life. He gets a job in the dry goods store owned by a sexually-frustrated middle-aged woman named Lady Torrence, whose sadistic elderly husband, Jabe, is dying. With an obscure past and passions of her own, Lady finds herself attracted to Val, pulsating with passion anew, as he presents an arousing antidote to her bitter marriage and small-town hum-drum life, but also vying for Val's attention are the alcoholic, sex-crazed Carol Cutrere and the unhappily-married Vee Talbot. Each bring their share of problems into Val's plans, himself equally tempted by these women though he succumbs to the charms of Lady. But the jealous Jabe is friends with Sheriff Talbot, who's also Vee's wife - things can't possibly end well for Val and Lady. The screenplay by Meade Roberts ...Written by
Tennessee Williams and Meade Roberts co-adapted Williams' play "Orpheus Descending" about a reluctant stud drifting through backwater town, stirring up the passions of an Italian shopkeeper who's married to a cranky invalid. Eerie and fabulously atmospheric piece gives the women in particular (Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, Maureen Stapleton) great roles to play. Marlon Brando, well-cast as the guitar-strumming gadabout with the bedroom eyes, doesn't seem as fully involved, and his focus tends to wander. Overall, an intriguing soap opera for mature audiences, beautifully photographed by Boris Kaufman and nimbly directed by Sidney Lumet. *** from ****
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