“War is the most monstrous of man’s illusions. Any idea worth anything is worth not fighting for.”
On the cusp of the Civil War, an aspiring writer (Montgomery Clift) with plans to marry his childhood friend (Eva Marie Saint) becomes smitten with a southern belle (Elizabeth Taylor) whose troubled background continues to haunt her.
Edward Dmytryk’s adaptation of Ross Lockridge Jr.’s bestselling novel is perhaps best known as the film featuring Montgomery Clift both before and after his disfiguring car accident. Unfortunately, it’s a rambling, thematically dubious film which never settles on a satisfying story arc and fails to engage. Clift’s performance seems dialed in (small wonder, given what he was going through), and it’s hard to figure out (or care much about) his character. Meanwhile, Taylor over-emotes like she’s in a Tennessee Williams play, and the narrative threads about her mental instability, her attachment to creepy dolls, and her obsession with racial “purity” make it awfully difficult to sympathize with her. Eva Marie Saint has a thankless part as the beautiful small-town girl who is shoved aside by Taylor’s insistent charm, and Lee Marvin, Agnes Moorehead, and Rod Taylor are all underutilized as well. There’s little to recommend here other than fine cinematography.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Beautiful cinematography
No. Skip this one unless you’re curious.