HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Amulet
Flag Day
Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster
Nest, The
Martin Eden
Halloween Kills
Cicada
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Comets
Herself
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Eternals
Forever Purge, The
Memoria
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Japon
Glasshouse
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Malignant
Deadly Games
Ailey
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
Zola
No Time to Die
Klaus
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Candyman
   
 
Newest Articles
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Summer and Smoke Wrong For Each Other
Year: 1961
Director: Peter Glenville
Stars: Laurence Harvey, Geraldine Page, Rita Moreno, Una Merkel, John McIntire, Thomas Gomez, Pamela Tiffin, Malcolm Atterbury, Lee Patrick, Max Showalter, Earl Holliman
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ever since Alma (Geraldine Page) was a little girl, she has been in love with John (Laurence Harvey), the boy next door. She tended to obsess over him, and one of her dearest memories is the Halloween night when they shared a moment at the local drinking water fountain when he kissed her and ran away giggling. But now they are grown, and Alma still lives in the same house where she grew up, with her senile mother (Una Merkel) and Reverend father (Malcolm Atterbury) who struggles to cope with her. Meanwhile, next door John has returned to see his father (John McIntire), not receiving much of a welcome for despite being a doctor now, he remains a rebel...

The adaptations of Tennessee Williams plays continued into the nineteen-sixties, the studios pursuing those A Streetcar Named Desire cash profits that had made such an impression on them early in the previous decade; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof had done very nicely too, so it was not an one-off. But with the censorship of the times, these versions had to be toned down from the stage performances, and you wonder if they had been adapted later in their lives if they would have been more faithful and had more impact. Nevertheless, these Williams movies were as much a part of the era they emerged as any of the censor-busting controversies that led into the late sixties reform.

However, for every Baby Doll being condemned from the pulpits, there were more efforts like Summer and Smoke, where the writer's obsessions began to resemble self-parody; here in particular the plot points looked like hoary old clich├ęs if you had had any experience of Williams' work in the run up to it, with the hapless Alma looking like Blanche Dubois had Blanche never left home. Not much help was that Page, a much respected thespian lest we forget, was allowed to ham it up in a misjudged and unconvincing reading of her character, to the point that she was coming across like a refugee from a John Waters' movie rather than a fully-rounded personality to be empathised with.

Something like Polyester, maybe. Anyway, as you clawed your way through the morass of terrible Southern accents, you sought in vain anything remotely like real life, or at least something that was not plainly some dramatic construct conveyed with contrived and artificial results. The chemistry between Page and Harvey was so lacking that you were baffled as to what either of them saw in one another as far as the story went, so much so that it would occasionally prompt unintended laughter when one of them went over the top in their tries at making a connection. Given John was supposed to be romancing Rita Moreno in a stereotyped Mexican firecracker role (this in the year she gave her Oscar-winning stylings in West Side Story), it was bizarre that he would spend time with the neurotic and unexciting Alma.

It didn't matter that Alma liked to remind people her name was Spanish for soul, there was zero soulful about her, she was simply a caricature of an "old maid" spinster, here the most horrifying position a woman can be in, apparently, and though Page was obviously seeking nuance that Harvey was not so warm to, she was fighting a losing battle. With scenes like John taking Alma to a cockfight in one of the most misjudged dates on the big screen until Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver next decade, or the aftermath of a wild party John has held that gets stumbled upon by his furious father who is then shot by the firecracker's father for beating him with his cane (!), the raised temperatures of emotions were certainly present, but so was the sense this was all very silly and the characters were solely acting like this for the purposes of the narrative and whatever lessons of reconciliation and attempted poignancy of missed opportunities they were aiming for. You could garner some camp amusement, but it was a long two hours for a few chuckles. Music by Elmer Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 792 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: