The Night of the Iguana (1964)

Directed by John Huston

Today was a happy day as my order arrived – the DVD set Tennessee Williams Film Collection. So that’s six movies plus a disc with a documentary (Tennessee Williams’ South).

While I’ve always liked Williams, and thus have a fondness for films based on his plays (and one novel), I really bought this set for one movie, the one I watched tonight:

The Night of the Iguana (1964), directed by John Huston (and starring Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr).

While I don’t think it’s a great movie I certainly think it’s very good.

And I suppose it’s also what the movie is about, and how it is about it, that appeals to my own tastes in film and art generally.

Richard Burton as the Rev. Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon and Ava Gardner as Maxine Faulk in The Night of the Iguana (1964).

It’s about frail people at the edge of endurance. The how, that appeals to me, is that it is through character and dialogue (Williams is, after all, a playwright) and it’s done with great empathy – kindness, I suppose, though it also has its harshness.

Williams work, at least as done cinematically, does have a certain histrionic quality seen at this distance (2006, whereas most of the films were made in the fifties and early sixties) but that doesn’t really bother me.

I find it pretty easy to settle into the tone of the films. But that may not be so for everyone.

In The Night of the Iguana, by the way, as much as I like Richard Burton, and particularly like Deborah Kerr (her character has some of the best speeches), it is Ava Gardner who really stands out for me. Her performance is wonderful.

And now I have five more films to look forward to. The only problem is deciding which one is next. The set, by the way, includes these films:

  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Two-Disc Special Edition
  • Baby Doll (1956)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) Deluxe Edition
  • The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)
  • Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)
  • The Night of the Iguana (1964)

A youthful Sue Lyon as a precocious Charlotte Goodall unsettles the Rev. Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon.

On Amazon:


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