Movie Diary 8/12/2019

The Fugitive Kind (Sidney Lumet, 1960). A Tennessee Williams adaptation, with Marlon Brando as a snakeskin-jacket-wearing drifter hired as a shop clerk by lonely wife Anna Magnani in a small Southern town; her husband (Victor Jory) is recuperating in the upstairs of their mercantile store. Joanne Woodward plays the local wild child – yes, Joanne Woodward. Brando is fascinating, seemingly intent on going the opposite direction from Stanley Kowalski; his character is slow-simmering, muttery, full of tender philosophical credos. For all the poetic flourishes in Williams’ dialogue, there’s also much interest in what is unsaid (if you wonder a little about why Brando gets thrown out of his musical gigs and parties, you might find yourself wondering about the nature of those parties and his sexual identity). Beautifully photographed by Boris Kaufman, although Lumet has the tendency to hammer the keys; in Brando’s big monologue about birds that spend their lives flying and never land, Lumet makes sure you understand this is the Big Moment, practically a church sermon. It works, of course, because of the imagery and Brando’s delivery. Magnani is tops, and Maureen Stapleton and R.G. Armstrong are also around, though not enough.

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