Summer and Smoke Reviews
(1961) Summer And Smoke
Based on a play written by Tennessee Williams, which is somewhat similar to his other play "A Streetcar Named Desire", except that there's kind of a love story involved. Picture this, imagine Blanche DuBois played by Vivien Leigh attempting to change a person who acts like Stanley, played by Marlon Brando. The entire story is pastor's daughter, Alma Winemiller (Geraldine Page) has always been in love with the doctor's son, John Buchanan, Jr (Laurence Harvey) ever since they were kids. Except that John can't avoid his reckless behaviour and leave his rebellious ways. I liked this movie up to a specific point, as soon as viewers weren't give in to the aftermaths involving other characters that impacted the main stars lives, including the other so-called rambunctious girl in Johnny's life and Alma's pastor father who verbally lied to her, which is something pastor's are not supposed to do. We kind of have to come up with our own conclusions on some of those people. Both Laurence Harvey and Geraldine Page are exceptional, but the story overall still has much to be desired.
2.5 out of 4 stars
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.