Sweet Bird of Youth Reviews
When youth disappears, all you are left with is ugliness, corruption and failure.
It's a pretty sad way of looking at life, and a little dramatic. But the heartbreak of lost youth runs straight through just about everything Williams ever wrote.
But Williams' works also layer in all kinds of levels that lift him above mere Southern Gothic degeneracy. There is always so much going on between the characters, around what they want and how effective they are in getting it, always more than mere lust, always the eternally frustrated promise of something profound underneath all the layers of hypocrisy and grotesquery. Even his failures command attention.
The performances in Sweet Bird of Youth are all brilliant. Geraldine Page shows why Hollywood was always the lesser for her lack of interest in it. Paul Newman is infuriatingly good, as always; it's no goddamn fair that a guy that good looking should be that brilliant an actor. Ed Begley, Rip Torn, Madeleine Sherwood, Shirley Knight, all brilliant.
I would like to know if there was ever a Hollywood movie before this one where a character smokes pot without a Reefer Madness-style freak-out. Which is what makes the happy ending so exasperating. I mean, they go to all the trouble to parade booze, drugs, infidelity, abortion, prostitution - if there's a way to be corrupt, this movie's got it, all pushing on the outer boundaries of the Production Code - and then Richard Brooks goes and tacks on a bullshit happy ending. Lots of fine movies of the day tacked on artificial happy endings, but it's jarring just how false it rings in Sweet Bird of Youth.
It's the first film I've seen, that Newman wasn't able to carry.
Chance Wayne has had many jobs, but never his dream job. Chance is an aspiring actor who hopes to one day land his big break; well, he hasn't been lucky finding the right opportunity and returns home with a alcoholic former movie star he hopes will help him earn his big break. Chance is a playboy, He doesn't really love the movie star and is using her, like most people in his life. Will Chance ever earn his big break or will his methods catch up to him?
"I don't understand you."
"I don't expect you to."
Richard Brooks, director of Fever Pitch, Bite the Bullet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Elmer Gantry, Battle Circus, Crisis, and Flame and the Flesh, delivers Sweet Bird of Youth. The storyline for this picture is interesting and a bit methodical. The pace is kind of slow but the acting is amazing. Newman delivers a powerful performance and the cast also includes Geraldine Page, Shirley Knight, Rip Torn, and Barry Cahill.
"What are you laughing at?"
"Only idiots laugh at nothing."
I came across this film while scrolling through Turner Classic Movie's (TCM) upcoming television schedule. I was surprised that I had never heard of this Newman gem. I found this film fairly entertaining, a bit depressing, and a fairly slow. The story itself is excellent and contains wonderful characters; but overall, while it tells an interesting tale it is far from my favorite Tennessee Williams story or Newman picture.
"There is no easy way to the top."