Summer and Smoke (1961)
In this film, based on Tennessee Williams' Broadway play, Alma Winemiller lives a spinsterish existence in her WWI-era Mississippi hometown. Alma carries a torch for her handsome next-door neighbor, Dr. John Buchanan. However, the doctor's preference for the companionship of free-wheeling Rosa leads to tragic consequences.
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Critic Reviews for Summer and Smoke
Audience Reviews for Summer and Smoke
Moody, stage bound drama with some typical Williams touches has a heavy gothic atmosphere and good performances to recommend it. Geraldine Page conveys the Alma"s yearnings with her customary skill and even the usually stiff Harvey is more accomplished than usual. Also standing out in a small role is Una Merkel as Alma's mother giving an affecting performance in just a few scenes.More
A Southern belle longs for a doctor who pays more attention to desires of the flesh than Southern social mores.
It's rare for me to find a superficial quality about an actor that detracts from her performance enough for me to mention it, but Geraldine Page is an unfortunate exception: I hate her face. When she smiles, her cheeks pucker into two protruding circles that dominate her expression; it's like she's got two jawbreakers stuck in her cheeks. And her expression is always coy - coyly distressed, coyly happy, coyly longing. Yes, it's superficial, but the structure of her face actually detracted from her performance.
The film's central conflict is a "will he or won't he grow up" dramatic question, and such a plot obviously reinforces traditional values, or in this case, traditional Southern mores. This plot by itself isn't too strong, but with Tennessee Williams's language, it becomes more compelling. Long monologues about passion and fire make fucking around seem like a spiritual communion. This isn't Williams's best writing - some of the metaphors are overwrought and the Southern belle act has gotten cliche - but in the hands of anyone else, it would have been a bland, cliche story about a man being saved by the love of a good woman with a predictable twist.
Overall, though it's one of his lesser works, fans of Tennessee Williams might enjoy this film.
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