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Friday, June 12, 2015

Suddenly Last Summer (1993)

Set in the 1930s, a wealthy and socially prominent New Orleans matron (Maggie Smith) attempts to silence her niece (Natasha Richardson) whose startling account of her son's death in Europe (possibly Spain or Portugal) she considers libelous. To this end, she contacts a doctor (Rob Lowe) whose specialty is lobotomy, a new and unproven method at the time. Tennessee Williams' one act play was originally done off Broadway but the Joseph L. Mankiewicz film version was one of the major hits of 1959. It's not one of his best plays but it contains two of his best written monologues, one spoken by Violet Venable (Smith's character) at the beginning and the other by Catherine Holly (Richardson's character at the play's end). The language and images are pure Williams poetry. Unfortunately, Smith isn't up to the part. She seems over directed and there's an unnecessary harshness to her performance and Williams' poetic language seems difficult for her. Richardson fares much better and she seems more comfortable with the dialog. Andrew Dunn's cinematography seems overly dark and muddy looking. The 1959 film (Williams co-wrote the screenplay) actually made some improvements to the play. With Richard E. Grant and Moira Redmond. 

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