Fran walks into a piano bar for pizza. She comes back home with Joe, the piano player. Joe plans on winning $5,000 and leaving Las Vegas. Fran waits for something else. Meanwhile, he moves in with her.
Lilith is a about a mysterious young woman in an elite sanitarium in Maryland, who seems to weave a magical spell all around her. A restless, but sincere young man with an equally obscure past is seemingly drawn into her web. As time passes, their relationship deepens and intensifies, and the differences between them begin to blur, leading to a shocking, but oddly logical conclusion.Written by
Rhea Worrell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Robert Rossen would only direct ten films in the space of 17 years and, despite their sometimes erratic quality, he was a talented and highly respected figure. His neglected and misunderstood swan-song was deemed by some a means of reparation for his former Communist beliefs and the fact that he was a friendly witness during the HUAC hearings (the confused hero wanting to make good but ending up disillusioned); when the picture was mauled by critics, he got cold feet and bailed out of his intention to present it at the Venice Film Festival!
Few American movies up to this point had revolved around insane asylums, most notably the prestigious THE SNAKE PIT (1948), Vincente Minnelli's glossy, all-star melodrama THE COBWEB (1955) and the somewhat hysterical SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963) from maverick film-maker Samuel Fuller. Still, this is more of a character study than a serious treatment of its subject matter (which, outside of the inmates played by Jean Seberg and Peter Fonda – a nice early dramatic showcase for the latter – are restricted to a handful of intense irrational outbursts, for lack of a better phrase). Even so, Warren Beatty’s brooding occupational therapist protagonist is himself often impenetrable (despite the sympathetic guidance of asylum head Kim Hunter) – justifying his own breakdown at the film’s abrupt, haunting conclusion. The essential gloominess of the piece is, however, offset by passages of lyricism (the ethereal yet experimental black-and-white cinematography by veteran Eugen Schuftan – who had won as Oscar for Rossen’s previous film, THE HUSTLER  – is exquisite throughout): that said, sequences such as the lengthy interlude at the fair (complete with an archaic jousting tournament) seem to be making some obscure point or other which renders it a slightly pretentious whole.
Apart from the fact that therapist and patient are involved in a tempestuous love affair, the film’s controversial aspects entail scenes subtly depicting paedophelia, a lesbian relationship and also the temptation for an extra-marital fling by Beatty’s former girlfriend (Jessica Walter); a young Gene Hackman appears as Walter’s workaholic but uncouth husband in one scene – naturally, he would re-unite with Beatty for Arthur Penn’s seminal BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967). Despite his classic good looks, Beatty didn’t conform to Hollywood standards – opting from the outset for gritty and often demanding fare (including John Frankenheimer’s ALL FALL DOWN  and Penn’s MICKEY ONE ) whenever he could. The beguiling Seberg exudes effortless sensuality in the role of the enigmatic Lilith which, reportedly, was her own personal favorite; chillingly, the climactic regression into total madness of her character parallels that of the actress herself who would eventually take her own life 15 years later!
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