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Reflections In A Golden Eye
USA 1967
Directed by John Huston
Running time 115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Reflections In A Golden Eye, adapted from a 1941 novel by Carson McCullers about the loveless marriage between a repressed homosexual Armu major (Marlon Brando) and his brassy general's daughter wife (Elizabeth Taylor), is a rather anachronistic film, rooted more in the melodramatic Tennessee Williamsish style of the 1950s than the more switched on times in which it was released (Bonnie And Clyde, Point Blank and The Graduate all came out that year)

Shot entirely in autumnal gold-tinted tones (it was later released on video in Technicolor) its rather hopeless stuff, occasionally verging on the comical thanks to Brando’s posturing, veering into the awful thanks to the floridly gay Filipino house boy Anacleto (Zorro David) but generally simply drab (Julie Harris and Brian Keith obliging in that department) whilst  Elizabeth Taylor delivers her usual ballsy and blowzy character.

The main focus of the film is on Brando as Maj. Weldon Penderton, a deluded, self-loathing popinjay with lust in his heart for his own kind. There’s lots of heavy-handed symbology to do with horses (“Firebrand’s a stallion” hisses Taylor to the impotent Brando), and various forms of mis-directed and unhappy sexual energy but it’s not turgid enough to be a guilty pleasure (although Brando’s  paean to the life of men amongst men is something to treasure). It also doesn’t offer much reward as drama but rather comes across as an overdrawn assemblage of middle class types tearing each other to pieces in familiar 50s form (Harris’s neurotic wife has cut off her nipples with garden shears. “Garden shears” shrieks Taylor as she relates the story).  Had this been made 10 years earlier it might have been a strong film.  In 1967 it was too little too late.

FYI:  Brando's role was meant for Montgomery Clift a close friend of Taylor and a real life closeted homosexual  who died of a heart attack just as filming began.

 

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