Considerable talents have gotten together to make The Sound and the Fury a work of cinematic stature. It is a mature, provocative and sensitively executed study of the decadent remnants of an erstwhile eminent family of a small southern town, from the William Faulkner allegorical novel.
The Compsons are two brothers, one a weak alcoholic and the other a mute idiot (John Beal and Jack Warden), and a sister (Margaret Leighton) who has a long history of promiscuity. Their father, before his own death, had taken on a stepson (Yul Brynner). Latter in turn has taken on the Compson name and rules as master over a decrepit estate and his wretched second-hand relatives.
Subject to his control also is Joanne Woodward, cast as Leighton’s youthful, illegitimate daughter. A Negro servant family, headed by Ethel Waters, completes the cast of residents.
Woodward gives firm conviction to the part of the girl who, somewhat giddily, takes up with a crude mechanic (lecherous, bare-chested type) who’s in town with a traveling carnival (Stuart Whitman).
Leighton is remarkably realistic as the washed-out hag. Brynner is every inch the household tyrant. The Mississippi settings are unusually effective in communicating atmosphere.