U.S.A. • 1959 • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 119 MIN

‘When you work with Marlon Brando,’ said director Sidney Lumet, ‘you have only one job: release him, get him moving, get him unafraid.’ Here he plays a drifter who lands in a Mississippi town and falls for the lady who runs the general store (Anna Magnani), thereby inciting the wrath of her husband, the townspeople, and a nymphomaniac heiress (Joanne Woodward), who fancies him for herself.

Based on Williams’ play Orpheus Descending, it contains some of his ripest dialogue, notably when Brando parks Woodward near a cemetery and asks if she lives around here. ‘Nobody lives round here’ she drawls, ‘this is the bone orchard.’ Brando is a free spirit trying to fly in a restrictive world and Lumet saw the material as portraying the struggle ‘to preserve what is sensitive and vulnerable both in ourselves and in the world.’ It makes for an absorbing, underrated, finely acted film that builds to an exciting and violent climax.

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