Peter Glenville, who guided Tennessee Williams’ play in Britain, gives this pic version a solid delineation, effectively guiding his cast, and giving several scenes heightened impact by cutting them off short, allowing effect to follow into next sequence. Throughout most of the first half, he has also successfully disengaged film from its stage format.
Performances are almost uniformly excellent, though Geraldine Page walks off with top honors in a repeat of her 1952 stage role as Alma Winemiller, the repressed spinster. Laurence Harvey, perhaps a bit young to play her opposite number, John, perhaps a bit too continental as a bayou boy, is nevertheless very good, and gives a solid and believeable rendering of the ne’er-do-well who reforms.
Una Merkel (again a repeat of her stage role) cuts herself a memorable cameo in a relatively small part, while Rita Moreno as the dance hall girl, Thomas Gomez as her father, John McIntire as the boy’s pa, all give their supporting roles an effective reading. Earl Holliman is standout in a brief one-sequence appearance as the traveling salesman in the finale. An extra nod must go also to Pamela Tiffin, who as Nellie adds a pro flair to dazzling youthful beauty. It’s her first screen role.
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1961: Nominations: Best Actress (Geraldine Page), Supp. Actress (Una Merkel), Color Art Direction, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture