Screen adaptations of hard-to-slot items such as Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, have long been tricky affairs, so it’s a tribute to the makers of this pic that it’s come off this well.
Writer-director Andrew Sinclair has a wonderful feel for his material, and a happy hand in matching it to its setting. Normal screen conventions are broken as Sinclair chooses to follow Thomas instead in his dissection of a Welsh seaside village and its inhabitants, done with caustically keen and boisterously, earthily humorous pen.
Peter O’Toole plays the blind but still all-seeing Captain Cat, with a (sometimes distracting) assist from makeup on the surface and a fine and oft-moving limn underneath. Richard Burton is fully at ease in a physical walk-through of a village day, and he speaks the bulk of Thomas’ voice-over lines with feeling and obvious love. Through him principally, the purr and the occasional soar of the poet’s phrase flows and satisfies. Elizabeth Taylor, glimpsed all too briefly, has rarely been more beautiful. A very distinguished roster of featured players.