Although it’s said John Huston has wanted to film British author Malcolm Lowry’s autobiographical masterpiece Under the Volcano for some 30 years, it was always a project fraught with difficulties.
Story unfolds over a 24-hour period in November 1938 in the Mexican village of Cuernavaca where the former British Consul, Geoffrey Firmin (Albert Finney), guilt-ridden over the past and abandoned by his wife, is drinking himself to death. It’s a time of celebration, the Day of the Dead, a day when death is celebrated.
After a drunken night, Firmin returns home to discover that Yvonne (Jacqueline Bisset), the wife he so desperately yearned for, has unexpectedly returned. The occasion provides only a momentary interval from hard liquor, however.
Although this voyage into self-destruction won’t be to the taste of many, there will be few unmoved by Finney’s towering performance as the tragic Britisher, his values irretrievably broken down, drowning himself in alcohol and practically inviting his own death.
1984: Nominations: Best Actor (Albert Finney), Original Score