U.S.A. • 1967 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • 108 MIN

‘There is a fort in the South where a few years ago a murder was committed’ (Carson McCullers). But who was the victim, who the murderer? This is Huston at his most Hitchcockian, fashioning a voyeuristic melodrama that is also a thriller of the mind.

‘What a crew,’ says Julie Harris’s character as she ruefully surveys inmates at a sanatorium. She might actually be referring to the other characters: an Army Major (Marlon Brando) wrestling with repressed homosexuality; his blowsy wife (Elizabeth Taylor), who is carrying on with Harris’s husband (Brian Keith); Harris’s effete houseboy (Zorro David); and, strangest of all, a Private (Robert Forster) given to riding bareback in the nude and stealing into the Major’s house at night to watch his sleeping wife. All human vanity, foible and self-deception are here and in full tragic-comic regalia. It is a pity Huston’s amber-tinted version, devised to reflect novelist McCullers’ golden eye, did not show after the previews.(*) It is still one of the great oddball American movies and way ahead of its time. Brando’s performance as the Major, whose encroaching self-knowledge accelerates terrifyingly into a gallop, is simply astonishing.—Neil Sinyard.(*) We are hoping to show at least a section of Huston’s original amber-tinted version of this film.

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