Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Forgotten Movies: REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE





Directed by John Houston and based on the novella by Carson McCullers, this is a film that is probably too much for most people (like me). What was interesting and odd and beautifully written in the novel, became sinister, frightening. hysterical (in its true meaning) and occasionally laughable in the movie IMHO. Never a fan of either Liz Taylor or Marlon Brando's acting styles, I should have known this was not the film for me. Anyone see it?
I am still looking for a film where Brando (or Taylor) works for me. Brando comes closest in STREETCAR but even there his hysteria, suited to that film, I guess, wears on me. Brian Keith is the saving grace in REFLECTIONS.

18 comments:

Deb said...

I saw this on TCM a few days ago. I'd seen it before, but watched it again. I don't think it was a successful adaptation (it was too literal and all the gold filters on the camera didn't help), but the biggest drawback was the clash of acting styles: Studio-professional Liz, method actor Brando, less mannered but still method Julie Harris, and naturalistic Brian Keith (you're right-- his presence here is a saving grace). Also, at this point, Liz was segueing into a more "matronly" look, but movies continued to treat her as if she still looked like Maggie the Cat. Finally, that awful gay caricature of the Filipino houseboy is offensive on so many levels--although I'm sure the filmmakers thought they were being bold presenting such an obvious character. Apparently, it was a troubled production and there is a book about the making of the film, but I don't have my trusty book journal with me right now, because I have it written down as a tbr if I can ever find it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, if you come across it, let me know. I know Megan is going to be disappointed I didn't like it. Funny that to me the gold looked purple. Even odder.

pattinase (abbott) said...

"Troubles in a Golden Eye" by William Russo & Jan Merlin

Deb said...

Thank you!

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

It is a very peculiar movie but one that has stuck with me through the decades none the less. Not read the novella though. I love Brando in GUYS AND DOLLS and THE GODFATHER (now there's a double bill for you ...) and Taylor was never sweeter than in FATHER OF THE BRIDE.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I've liked Brando in some things ON THE WATERFRONT for one - but not this, or APOCALYPSE NOW, which I hated. Taylor, not so much, though the worst was probably A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, which was painful.

Chad Eagleton said...

It's interesting to me what things work well on the page but do not work on the screen.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sergio is right about FATHER OF THE BRIDE being the best.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, I loved the novella but I think I can read quirky more than have it on the screen in front of me.

Margot Kinberg said...

To be honest, Patti, I've never been a huge Taylor fan. And only some limited doses of Brando. So this one probably wouldn't work for me...

George said...

Liz Taylor dominated the screen in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOFE. Brando dominated the screen in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. In REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE nothing jells.

Deb said...

Sorry George-- Brando wasn't even in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I'm sure you meant Streetcar or On the Waterfront. He was definitely a magnetic, dominating presence in both of those. He really devolved into a parody of himself in later years.

R.T. said...

Skip the movie, but read the book. It's terrific and strange. Carson McCullers is one of my favorite southern authors. She was an amazing but sad talent.

Elgin Bleecker said...

I’ve seen “Reflections” twice in the last few years and can’t decide whether it is a good film or a goofy film. Either way, it is a very strange film. As for Brando and Taylor, I am a fan or hers but not of his. “On the Waterfront” is Brando’s best, and I like “Viva Zapata” and that’s about it. Maybe it took Elia Kazan to rein him in. As for Taylor, I agree with the others on “Father of the Bride.”

George said...

Deb, you are the best editor ever! Of course I was thinking of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE but my brain is fried right now correcting 100 research papers! I probably shouldn't comment until my correcting is completed and my sanity returns to avoid more gaffs!

SteveHL said...

Keeping in mind that I saw the movie only once and that was in 1967, on the whole I recall liking it. I know that many people hated the gold-tinted look of the film, but I thought it was appropriate. I appreciated John Huston's willingness to take chances like this; I think that the similarly artificial color in Huston's MOBY DICK was extremely effective.

I recall thinking that Brian Keith gave the best performance in the film. I disliked Julie Harris's performance, although I generally did like her work. That may have been because I thought her character was misconceived, both in the book and the movie. As Deb said, the houseboy character was completely offensive.

I thought Taylor and Brando were both good in this. As for their other work, I was never much of a fan of Taylor's. I thought she was very good in A PLACE IN THE SUN and SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER. Brando was occasionally quite poor but I think he was terrific at his best. My favorite Brando performances were in ON THE WATERFRONT and LAST TANGO IN PARIS.

Todd Mason said...

Saw this one as a kid and thought it a soap-operatic clunker then, and have never bothered since. I'll have to think about anything I"ve genuinely enjoyed Taylor in...WOOLF might be the least bad I recall now. I'll have to think about what Brando hasn't seemed excessively mannered, now you mention it...

Is the filter gold and...or purple and...

Mathew Paust said...

Brando was too self-conscious to be a good actor. So was Taylor.