Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hud / A Streetcar Named Desire

I saw Hud just today, with Paul Newman again demonstrating what a fine actor he is (watch his drunken gait, as different from the normal one). But what struck me was that Newman was completely overshadowed by his co-actors, all of whom have done a fine work, especially Douglas. Patricia Neal has also done a very good work in her brief role ( I have only seen her a second time, after once seeing her in The Subject Was Roses many years back in which she has performed par excellence and the film itself is one of my favorites, plan to review it sometime later on).
I came to know that the film has received Oscars for Douglas, Neal and the cinematography. Though I praise Neal, I think it could have been only a severe lack of competition which enabled her to earn an Oscar since the role was too brief and neither that much powerful so as to make her deserving of the award for that particular role. Or it could have been one of those innumerable instances in the history of the Academy Awards where a fine performance by an actor is overlooked and then to make up for it, the actor is rewarded for even a tolerable performance later on. Anyways, I am not too much a fan of the Academy Awards nor want to be interested by their intrigues.
The striking point of the film Hud is of course the sweeping cinematography and yet the static camera at times, forcing the viewer to be unwillingly pushed into the scene, into the setting, as if he is himself getting oppressed by the cruel wantonness of Newman, the heat, the sultry monotony of the ranch life, and the desires of letting oneself go into the manifold temptations once in a while. The solitary ranch life is dominating them all, is dominating the film, is dominating the viewer, and of course this is where the director had to succeed and has succeeded. A good film, but I don't think that most of the people will able to tolerate it , since the film is neither thrilling at any point nor has any sort of pace. Its a heavy-handed film, almost drooping shoulders on the viewer and asking him to take the burden along.

Also saw A Streetcar Named Desire some days ago, and that was my first time for this Brando-Vivien Leigh film. As a matter of fact, I could say that this was the film that I liked least of all of all the Tenessee Williamses I have ever seen (I have already seen Cat on a Hot Tin Roof many times, and besides it Night of the Iguana and Sweet Bird of Youth). Vivien Leigh's acting is very great and very brilliant, and yet its for the stage, not for the film. Maybe since Leigh had already been doing the play for the stage for a long time, she was unable to act in a less dramatic way or maybe the director never told her to tone down. Anyway, but that is a major flaw to the film for me, although Leigh's brilliant dramatic acting is alone why every man should possess this film. Brando - well, I have never liked him at all , but here he suits very well to the character. And his wife's role is played to perfection, but looking too much of in a pink of health for the poverty stricken setting of the film.
Where the film succeeds is of course a very good cast, all suitable to their roles, and the director's ability to bring out the sexual tension between the characters in the film. Even more than the director, it is Leigh and Brando who succeed in creating the tension through their performances and the cinematographer also doesn't play a small role. But I would have loved to see a little bit more of what happened when Brando took Leigh by force, something more after the shattering of the glass. Maybe it isn't there because of the censors of that period.
Where the film fails is of course the lack of sympathy for any character in the mind of the viewer. No character could call for any sympathy in my mind. Williams used to say that he could never conceive of a story in which he doesn't feel intense physical attraction towards one of the characters, and for that kind of a story to succeed the viewer must precisely feel the same, but in this film there is none whom at least I would feel a desire for.
In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof I feel it for Elizabeth Taylor's character, in Night of the Iguana I feel it Ava Gardner's character (rather than Kerr's), and it is the vitality of the character of Paul Newman which keeps you going in Sweet Bird of Youth (though the written play is disappointing, only the film is good). But here, there is none.