The Night of the Iguana 1964

The Night of the Iguana

Critics Consensus

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73%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 15

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,625

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Movie Info

Lusty defrocked minister Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) is a tour guide in Mexico. Leading a tourist group from a Baptist women's college, he finds it difficult to avoid acting on his attraction to Charlotte (Sue Lyon), the young niece of the group's leader, Judith Fellowes (Grayson Hall). When Fellowes swears to ruin him, Shannon strands the bus at a hotel to seek advice from the manager, an old friend. Over the course of one night, the alcoholic Shannon spirals out of control.

Cast & Crew

Richard Burton
Rev. Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon
Ava Gardner
Maxine Faulk
Deborah Kerr
Hannah Jelkes
Sue Lyon
Charlotte Goodall
Skip Ward
Hank Prosner
Grayson Hall
Judith Fellowes
Mary Boylan
Miss Peebles
Gladys Hill
Miss Dexter
Billie Matticks
Miss Throxton
Ray Stark
Producer
Anthony Veiller
Screenwriter
John Huston
Screenwriter
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Critic Reviews for The Night of the Iguana

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (4)

  • Direction by John Huston is resourceful and dynamic as he sympathetically weaves together the often-vague and philosophical threads that mark Tennessee Williams' writing.

    May 5, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • No one but Tennessee Williams could have concocted it, but anyone other than John Huston should have directed it.

    May 5, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Films of Tennessee Williams' plays now often look very artificial and overwrought, but with this Huston came up with one of the best.

    January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Mr. Huston has got some scenic beauty of the Mexican coast here and there in black-and-white. But the setting, at the last, becomes monotonous -- just like the all-talk, no-play film.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The three main female leads (Gardner, Kerr and Hall) help make this the classic it has become. Burton is also terrific as a man who is about "to take the long swim to China."

    November 6, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Though uneven and not as powerful as other Williams-based films, Huston's version benefits from a high-profile cast, headed by Burton, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon and best of all Ava Gardner as the lusty hotel owner and Grayson Hall as the repressed lesbian

    July 21, 2008 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Night of the Iguana

  • May 08, 2020
    Despite the on-location shooting in Puerto Vallarta this John Huston movie still feels like a rendition of the Tennessee Williams play than a film. This is probably because of long monologue scenes and the abundance of symbolism Williams' work is known for. Richard Burton's acting in the lead role feels to theatrical for me, but the females are fabulous they include Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon and Grayson Hall.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2017
    "Night of the Iguana" is based on the play by Tennessee Williams, so you know it's going to include darkness and push boundaries, and it does. Richard Burton plays a clergyman with a predilection for young women, and thus finds himself kicked out of his church and employed as a tour guide in Mexico. On a tour to Puerto Vallarta, it seems he has sex with an underage girl (Sue Lyon), and afterwards can't get rid of her. She continues to pursue him, much to the chagrin of her aunt and leader of the group (Grayson Hall). Burton finds himself in hot water again, and out of desperation takes control of the bus and the group to a different hotel, one now owned by the playful and bawdy widow of an old friend (Ava Gardner). There they meet an altruistic and spiritual painter (Deborah Kerr) and her elderly grandfather, a poet. Richard Burton's performance was a little hit-and-miss for me, at times being a bit hammy, but at other times really delivering. In any event he is certainly upstaged by Ava Gardner, who turns in a fantastic performance. She is smooth, natural, and authentic in this role. Sue Lyon is a little too wide-eyed and Deborah Kerr is a little too-pious for my taste, though those are the characters. And I have to say, the scene where Lyon cuts loose and dances around a beach bar is mesmerizing, and Kerr (the "spinster who is pushing forty") is compelling when she recounts her limited experiences with the opposite sex, and how she endures her urges and demons, things that have helped make her deeply empathetic to others. The film can be a bit heavy-handed in places, e.g. the comparison of Burton while trussed up in a hammock to Christ being crucified, but it's profound in others, e.g. the poem the old man comes up with (search for "How Calmly Does the Olive Branch"). It is edgy in places and refreshingly at the vanguard of the sexual liberation of the 60's, e.g. Ava Gardner's character making it clear that she enjoys sex with two young men (the scene on the beach, while nothing ultimately happens, still surprised me). It's retrograde in others, most notably stereotyping lesbians in Grayson Hall's character, whose sexuality the others make insulting comments about. All in all, while it had unevenness in the performances and script, there was a range of interesting emotions, some great moments, and it was entertaining.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2010
    <p>The Night of the Iguana is adapted from a play by Tennessee Williams and directed by John Huston. That said, it's almost unnecessary to explain the combination of intense, believable and uninhibited drama and towering performances from all actors. We are told the story of Reverend Shannon, a clergyman gone astray, torn to the bone between his passions and his devotion, who has gone to conduct religious-themed tours across Pacific Mexico after a "spooky" episode during a sermon in his former church. During the tour, an overexcited young girl does her best to take him over the edge and he enters a feverish, almost insane state of mind; from this point on he is left to battle the ill influences of the rest of the tourists, takes refuge at a friend's bungalow complex in Puerto Vallarta, and comes across a world-wandering sketch artist and her poet grandfather.</p> <p>The character of Shannon is played brilliantly by Richard Burton: an epic performance, one that flows effortlessly and empathetically from the wildest to the most peaceful states of mind. His portrayal of a man fighting his demons, slowly losing track of the limits between the "realistic" and the "fantastic" is perfect. Ava Gardner plays his hotel-owner friend, a smaller but fascinating role, also a collision of passion and frailty. In all truth, everyone, from Sue Lyon and her annoying squeals and Deborah Kerr's quietly dignified bohemian deliver solid work. </p> <p>However, in spite of all this, the most remarkable aspect of The Night of the Iguana, aside from the lush cinematography and scenery, is the way in which so much emotional turmoil happens in such short episodes. Passion and despair overflow in every scene, in every word -the dialogue is brilliant, absolutely quotable-, all while the film itself, the shots even, are very closed and restrained. It feels as if the entire film is about to implode. I still have to look more into Huston's work but The Night of the Iguana is a remarkable film and completely recommended.</p>
    Elvira B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 20, 2010
    Great acting, great directing and great writing. You can't ask for much more in a drama. This is a lot different than most Southern centric Tennessee Williams plays, but it's actually a warm welcome to me. It just proves that a great writer can change settings and normal trends and still be effective. Richard Burton is at the top of his game, playing a tragic drunkard on the verge of madness. I also think Sue Lyon's performance is a great spin on hers from Lolita. While John Huston may be known for his action adventure movies, this is given just as much effort and skill.
    Conner R Super Reviewer

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