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Friday, September 9, 2016

The Sandpiper (1965)

Set in the Big Sur on the California coast, a struggling Bohemian artist (Elizabeth Taylor) has her son (Morgan Mason, son of James) taken away from her by authorities and placed in a religious school. At first, there's an antagonism between her and the married headmaster (Richard Burton) but it isn't long before that gives way to a sexual attraction. So, where did this go wrong? The script (5 people are given credit) is weak but serviceable, it might have worked in the right hands. I'm a huge fan of Vincente Minnelli's films but his direction here is flaccid. Taylor manages to get by on star power but Richard Burton to put it bluntly is terrible! The film is supposed to be about a struggling Bohemian artist living in a beach shack but the film has been Hollywoodized. Taylor's "shack" is an elegantly rustic beach house and no explanation is given of how she can afford her chic Irene Sharaff wardrobe. A simple love story between two unlikely people has been turned into a turgid Hollywood romance. On the plus side, Milton Krasner's stunning lensing of the Carmel coast makes you want to move there immediately and there's Johnny Mandel's gorgeous underscore which spawned the Oscar winning song, The Shadow Of Your Smile. With Eva Marie Saint in the thankless role of the cuckolded wife, Charles Bronson, Tom Drake, Robert Webber, James Edwards and Torin Thatcher.

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