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.
The professional mercenary Sir William Walker instigates a slave revolt on the Caribbean island of Queimada in order to help improve the British sugar trade. Years later he is sent again to... See full summary »
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
The little Hudson River town of Milton, New York has a plaque from the production company for this film, thanking the city for its cooperation during the shoot. Even in the early 1970s, Milton had no traffic light on its main street and could still pass for a small town in the Deep South. Artists had studios in the "store." Tall ceilings allowed for suggestion of a second floor via a dummy staircase. The post office was one of the three attached storefronts. See more »
This story flopped as a play and as a film. That's too bad because that happens to be Tennessee Williams' most revealing play about the dark underbelly of racism, violence, vigilantes, lynchings and social injustice in the Deep South. Be warned: This ain't "Gone With the Wind". Its subject matter couldn't have been very popular with American audiences at any time or any place. Even today, Jabe (Hades), the king of the Underworld, where he keeps his Persephone/Eurydice (Lady) prisoner, sounds an awful lot like what George W. Bush will probably sound like in his declining years, uttering curses and maledictions against life, knowledge, science, progress, social change and uppity Negroes. I think the film works because it makes no concession to realism and frankly asserts the story's mythological elements. Lumet, Magnani, Brando, Jory, Stapleton, Armstrong and Woodward make it work and deliver a film and performances that are bigger than life and worthy of the best European art films of the period. Kudos for the set design, the art direction, the music (by Kenyon Hopkins) and the photography. This is a film you can't help but watch in absolute awe at the guts it took.
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