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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sweet Bird Of Youth (1989)

An aging movie star (Elizabeth Taylor) takes up with a male gigolo (Mark Harmon) who brings her to the Louisiana gulf town where he hopes to reclaim the girl (Cheryl Paris) he loves. But not if the girl's father (Rip Torn) has anything to say about it. Based on the 1959 play by Tennessee Williams which was previously made into a film in 1962. SWEET BIRD isn't one of Williams' great plays but even so, nothing prepared me for the bowdlerization and shambles that screenwriter Gavin Lambert (INSIDE DAISY CLOVER) has made of Williams' work. Lambert has added great chunks of unnecessary exposition and banal dialogue that only further weaken the material. As she proved in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, Taylor is good at playing Williams but she's terrible here. It doesn't help that Lambert has botched her big scene, the telephone call where she finds out her comeback was a success rather than a failure. He's also softened Taylor's character, making her less of a vainglorious monster. The director Nicholas Roeg (DON'T LOOK NOW) isn't much help, was this a collect a paycheck job? The best performance comes from Valerie Perrine (LENNY) as Miss Lucy although the script eliminates her best scene, the fingers in the jewel box. With Ruta Lee, Seymour Cassel and Kevin Geer.  

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