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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Lilith (1964)

A troubled young ex-soldier (Warren Beatty) takes a job in a mental institution training as an occupational therapist. But he crosses a line when he falls in love with a beautiful and enigmatic patient (Jean Seberg). Based on the novel by J.R. Salamanca and directed by Robert Rossen (THE HUSTLER), his final film. It's an odd little film, borderline pretentious yet strangely fascinating. Its central protagonist loses our empathy when he crosses that line and becomes sexually involved with a disturbed patient. We can empathize with Seberg's seductress despite her madness because she is IS sick (there's even a suggestion she might be a pedophile). Handsomely shot in crisp B&W by Eugen Schufftan, the film wasn't received particularly well when it was originally released but remains compelling in spite of all its flaws. Seberg is marvelous in what might be her best performance. Mad as a hatter but seductive as her mythical namesake. With Gene Hackman, Peter Fonda, Jessica Walter, Kim Hunter, Rene Auberjonois and Anne Meacham.

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