Desire Under the Elms (1958)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Based on the play by Eugene O'Neill, this film concerns a 19th-century New England farmer (Burl Ives) who makes a deal with a beautiful young immigrant (Sophia Loren) and marries her. The woman instead seduces his son (Anthony Perkins).
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures


Sophia Loren
as Anna Cabot
Anthony Perkins
as Eben Cabot
Burl Ives
as Ephraim Cabot
Frank Overton
as Simeon Cabot
Pernell Roberts
as Peter Cabot
Rebecca Welles
as Lucinda
Jean Willes
as Florence
Anne Seymour
as Eben's Mother
Roy Fant
as Fiddler
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Desire Under the Elms

All Critics (1)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 22, 2012
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 4, 2008
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

July 6, 2005

No excerpt available.

September 15, 2004
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for Desire Under the Elms


Overwrought is too mild a word for this lulu of a gothic melodrama. Of course being a Eugene O'Neill story the epic tragedy is no surprise but it is turned out in purple prose and declamatory acting. Sophia looks beautiful and is full of ripe sensuality. Burl Ives is made up to look older than his years but just looks foolish and Anthony Perkins keeps his twitchy intensity mostly under control but the film is just short of operatic overstatement which make it hard to take. Add into that the obviously fake settings and the whole thing is too much.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Perkins gives a great performance in this movie of forbidden love, the story is really dramatic, suspenseful, and surprising. I really liked it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


baised on an 1840's novel by nobell prize winner Eugene o' Neal, this is the times of the gold rush in california, this setting takes place on a large plantation around the hills and and elm trees of the country side in Europe, burl ives is ephrum the tyranical old father of simmion, peter, and eben he worked his 1st and 2nd wife to death not only by hard non stop work but with his cold, hard ways. he has hidden the money that belonged to the second wife $600.00 dollars eben's mother, she showed the place witch he hid it so one day he would remember it's his his herritage along with the land that came to her by her family when she died the land was left unto the father. its 1856 now... in the spring the three sons proceed with there daily rutines moving stones, tending to the animales and working the land. there father "ephrum" is weary and thoughts of him getting old drives him to a plan against his sons, he explains to them that he'll be away for a while, they continue there work days go by then a month goes by...they have the idea he might be dead? but one night while ebens in town he gets the news his dad's gone and married again, the next morring when he tells his brothers that there father has married a 25 year old italian woman from italy they think its a lie, they said he was out of it drunk but he said the whole village knows, and she was a waittress in a hotel in newdover, they knew there father did this just to spite them all simmion and peter thought everything will go to her now, but eben thinks differntly he knows ephrum wouldint leave his land to a woman, he never cared for his wives he thought he would drive this one to her grave as well. simmion and peter had thoughts of headed out to san fransisco and the gold feilds of california part of ebens trade he knew they'd want to all along so he goes to that place whare his money is hid gets 600 out and comfrots them with an offer 300$ to each of them there small shares of the farm are sold over to him, and wanting to buy them out and them wanting enough money for a boat ride to california they all agree with there signictures.....simmion and peter say now its all yours all yours to work to, need to pull up that plow and tend to the animals you better get to work! he states that he'll never leave here and its mine now! as he works and the brothers pack there suitcases eben notices his father's carrage coming up the path from a yard or two away, but more than willingly wants to leave to continue his work in the barn. when the woman and ephrum arrive she gazzes at everything in amazment beholding the beautiful land she can now call home, she states beautiful...he says the atmospher will change home's got to have a woman as he helps her down, she bluntly says a womans got to have a home! they come close to the portch as the two brothers simmion and peter come out the kitchen door with there luggage packed and ready to go. they ask is this a our new ma? he yes and why arnt you all to work? they state that there through with him and the whole place there setting out for the goldffeilds of california. he thinks there joking and says get to work they began to walk off and have a hateful bitter way towards the new wife they say one last thing "by ma"in a sarcastic manner then she say "i'll go look at my house" simmion exclaims you'll find eben inside you beter not tell him "its your house".she said ill tell eben what must be told! the brothers leave, his wife calls out the window from her new bedroom and exciteningly states "ephruim this is nice, this bedroom a pretty bed is my room? he yells back to her "ours" she says yes with a dissapointed sound in her voice, then gathers some blankets to dust off, as ephruim goes to check on the animales eben comes back from working standing at te edge of the portch facing the sky, she comes outside and stops and stares at the back of him, he turns around to see her anna, beautiful, young, and ful of life. she said softly thesse blankets are cold and gray they need the sun, he looks at her up and then down again. she comes near to him and asks are you eben? he slightly nods yes, she tells him that his father told her a lot about him, on the journey here, she said to not mind your dad its always the way old men leaning down hard on there sons, she explained where she came from she knew of many sons knifing ther fathers ....she said as post script there will be no knifes here, eben. he just stares into her eyes with a frustraited look in his expression. drawed near to him and said i dont want to play act mother to you, your to big and strong for that ill will be friends with you, i know how to make it easy for you with him! he's ready to do pretty much anything to please the new wife she gave him a grin, he quietly but in a irate tone said get this striaght i dont want to be friends with you or him, ive got my life you have yours, she said alright? i just dont want you thinking of me as if i were taking your mothers place, he budded in saying "your not taking my moms place!!!!" she said understand ive come a long way, and had a hard life soon youll realize i just needed a home is it a crime a woman needs a home why else would i marry and old man like him for? eben imediatly said ill tell him u said this! anna said she would say he's lying and get ephruim to drive him off this place, she drove the point by saying this is my land, and my home! he gets agervated and dostint continue to speak with her and walks away quickly. she just grins and says to herself "i'll go an wash my dishes now" days go on as he trys to resist her and her advances towards him, daily rutines goes on... one day she comfrots him in a conversation about the way he feels about her, and how he "trys to convince she's not pretty to him" he tells her he knows what shes trying to do....shes aiming to take everthing here and claim it her own he says "your going to find out you cant own me!" she just gives him that sexy smile and laughs! he walks away she says "where are you going? he says down the road and why? she said to the village to see that one woman???whtz her name?? he had an ornery look about him he said ....oh min yeah i might stop in on her sunday afternoons seems like a good time for visiting??? he starts to walk away again...she calls out "why do u want to waste your time on her for? he said because she's beter than u are! anna yelled dont compare me with her, he said she dont go stealling whats mine. she said yours??? you mean my farm! eben rejected "no mine the one you married him for!" simmion and peter signed and papper saying that there parts of the farm belong to me also,,,including mine witch makes it all mine. she screamed you''ll never see the day when even a stone of this place will belong to u never go on to your fat ugly old bi....he said go on say it u know the word? she slapped him and said get out of here ill have your father get you off this land if i want your only staying here because i let you "i hate the site of u" he said the same back then left.....only seconds later ephruim comes by anna and and eben been fighting again? anna replied unawhare "no" it was nothing! he said you two were talking awful loud??? then he switched his speach about how he felt old, and withered out, he explained he he felt in his thinking of who will take the land after me? she said well u dont plan to leave this land to eben do u???? he said it is wiser to him then to u he's my son with my blood in him mine outa get mine! she said boldly "im your wife!" he said you couldint look out for this place byyourself??? she said i belive your right, maybe the lord will give us a son?'s not impossible is it? he said "a son anna for you and I? she said ive been praying about ever scince the 1st day i came hear (yeah who with? u think?) she said i want a son! he said ill do anything you ask, i swear it! she said will u leave the farm and herritage to me then? to me and to yuor son? he agreed, more lonly unfulfilled nights lingered on it seemed forever.....her enticing ways made eben hot and very on edge he had never felt this way before....nor her. but he is headstrong to her seducing him he plans to never leave his rightful land it belongs to him he keeps thinking its all his! this certain night passion builds high as they are separated only a wall apart ephruim is speaking with anna in the nxt room over while he lie there filled with lustful thoughts and ravishing wishes for anna, she to cant keep her mind off him even ephruims demanding voice coulint cut through the thoughts of him, listening to the bed creek and he tosed and turnd in bed the rain swaying against the window, every sense of nature calling them togather in heart, soul and mind. ephruim drew his long disscusion to an end then grabed for his coat she brightend with excitment and said "where are you going?" he said out to tend for the animales wont be back until late" the bed room door close's quitly behinde him but eben is cosous enough to know his father is leaving, he stands and trys to tap on the side of the wall to get her attention little did he know he is all she ever notices and thinks about the downstairs door slams and anna slowly gets up reaches for a silk shaw to go over her camisole, she walks across the hall he turns to the door as he hears her aproach...she sways the door open...step by step coming nearer closer to him then they unite with a passionate kiss, as if they waited forever to be with eachother. both breathless he push her away a little, she gazed at him for a moment then said "you shouldint i can make you happy" he unconvincingly says "i dont be ..happy with you. she says your lying! he says get out of my room! she says if you hate me y did u kiss me back? i can see your kiss me again he leans in to kiss her he just pulls away and grins....she says come to me in the parlor mr cabot? i will expect you before long eben,she goes down stairs leaving him in desparate want. will he join her? will she really have a son? by eben or ephrim? will eben really stay or leave? will the old man die? will the brothers return ever? will it be true love for anna and eben or just a lustful one nite stand? will ephruim discover there relationship? you'll see when you watch desire under the elms!

Raychol elly
Raychol elly

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