The Night of the Iguana

1964

The Night of the Iguana

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

71%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 14

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,616
User image

Watch it now

The Night of the Iguana Photos

Movie Info

John Huston's adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play stars Richard Burton as the protagonist, Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon. An alcoholic, Shannon has been kicked out of his own church and is now working in Mexico as a bus tour guide. He takes a group of schoolteachers to a dilapidated hotel run by widowed Maxine Raulk (Ava Gardner), where they all are soon stranded. The youngest of the group, Charlotte Goodall (Sue Lyon), is attracted to Shannon, but Judith (Grayson Hall), the group's leader, is set against it. After catching Shannon and Charlotte together, Judith threatens to report Shannon's behavior to his employers to have him fired. Soon Hannah (Deborah Kerr), an idealistic young artist, and her poet grandfather (Cyril Delvanti) arrive at the hotel while Hannah and bus driver Hank (James Ward) begin to grow closer. As with many of Williams' works, Night of the Iguana explores sexual desire and repression between various characters while not disregarding a sense of underlying humanity and compassion. Oscar-nominated screenwriter Anthony Veiller skillfully adapted this drama to the screen--his last credited project before his death in 1965.

Cast

Richard Burton
as Rev. Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon
Ava Gardner
as Maxine Faulk
Deborah Kerr
as Hannah Jelkes
Sue Lyon
as Charlotte Goodall
Skip Ward
as Hank Prosner
Grayson Hall
as Judith Fellowes
Mary Boylan
as Miss Peebles
Gladys Hill
as Miss Dexter
Billie Matticks
as Miss Throxton
Eloise Hardt
as Teacher
Liz Rubey
as Teacher
C.G. Kim
as Chang
View All

Critic Reviews for The Night of the Iguana

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for The Night of the Iguana

  • 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
  • Nov 08, 2009
    There is something really enigmatic and magical about "The night of the Iguana" as it captures the raw beauty of Mexico as a preferred destination for pleasure seeking American tourists. It is one of those acclaimed films directed by renowned American director John Huston which succeeds at almost all levels. It is quite a pleasure to watch such a mature, serious film full of intellect and wit based on a humanist play by acclaimed playwright Tennessee Williams. This film has its own balanced share of comedy and drama as everything in it is a remarkable ode to human judgment."The night of the Iguana" is able to strike a chord in viewers' minds as it has been transformed into a great character study thanks to amazing acting performances by famous actors Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr. How can a moody man retain his sanity in an environment full of doubts and passion seems to be this film's core issue. It is an extremely complex issue for both men and women who have to deal with it using their limited resources. Both men and animals need to be freed from shackles to act and think freely appears to be this film's humane message. I love watching Richard Burton act. And you can't beat a combination like Burton and Tennessee Williams. It's the kind of dialogue that was meant for an actor of his strengths I had almost forgotten the magic of black and white and this one reminded me the flash of his eyes....
    Arianeta L Super Reviewer

The Night of the Iguana Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features