This Ray Stark production is rich in talents. Performances by Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr are superlative in demanding roles. Direction by John Huston is resourceful and dynamic as he sympathetically weaves together the often-vague and philosophical threads that mark Tennessee Williams’ writing.
Unfoldment takes place mainly in a ramshackle Mexican seacoast hotel where Burton, an unfrocked minister and now guide of a cheap bus tour, takes refuge from his latest flock, a group of complaining American schoolteachers who refuse to believe he actually is a preacher who lost his church. Frankness in dealing with his emotional problems as first he is pursued by a young sexpot in the party, then his involvement with the aggressive, man-hungry hotel owner and a sensitive, itinerant artist travelling with her 97-year-old grandfather, produces compassionate undertones finely realized in situations evoking particular interest.
Burton has stature in the difficult portrayal of the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, a part without glamour yet touched with magical significant force as he progresses to the point of a near-mental crackup. Gardner, in the earthy role of Maxine Faulk, the proprietress, is a gutsy figure as she makes her play for the depraved ex-minister, turning in a colorful delineation. Kerr lends warm conviction as the spinster who lives by idealism and her selling of quick sketches, a helpless creature yet endowed with certain innate strength.
1964: Best B&W Costume Design.
Nominations: Best Supp. Actress (Grayson Hall), B&W Cinematography, B&W Art Direction