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THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA

Director: JOHN HUSTON

U.S.A. • 1964 • BLACK AND WHITE • 125 MIN


Masochists and misfits congregate in a Mexican hotel to exorcise physical and psychological demons. They include a defrocked bishop (Richard Burton), a teenage Lolita (Sue Lyon) and a spinster (Deborah Kerr) in charge of the oldest poet on earth.

Director John Huston described the characters as ‘random souls trying to account for themselves and finally able to do so through love’, and his jaunty intellect and love of language go well with Williams’ poetic imagination. Ava Gardner as the hotel’s proprietor is all heart; and Richard Burton and Deborah Kerr in particular make the most of their verbal opportunities, notably in Burton’s ‘Man’s inhumanity to God’ speech and Kerr’s delicate description of a ‘sexual encounter’. It has all the richness of the usual Williams but with an unusual spicing of humour and tenderness, and it brings out the best in its director. The completion of the poem has the feeling of a true epiphany and is one of the loveliest things in all Huston’s work.

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