Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
"Golden Eye" Is Well Acted but Has Its Blind Spots
Cleveland Press November 9, 1967
Carson McCuller's 1941 novel, "Reflections in a Golden Eye" was a lean and intense work about domestic tragedy and sexual perversion.
John Huston's film version of it is fat instead of lean, plodding rather than intense.
With a script that owes more to Freud than to the late Miss McCullers he has fashioned a work that bludgeons with heavy-handed symbolism, numbs with repetition and embarrasses with a couple of scenes that may have been intended as shocking but are more likely to evoke a snicker from the audience.
What is right about this strange film is the east. Marlon Brando has created an unforgettable characterization in the role of an Army major who is a barely repressed homosexual. For once Elizabeth Taylor's tendency to be strident is right in her role of his sexy, not very bright wife.
Brian Keith is believable as her middle-aged lover. And as Keith's neurotic wife, Julie Harris, easily the most believable McCullers' character, quietly walks away with her scenes.
"THERE IS A FORT in the South where a few years ago a murder was committed." The quote is from Miss McCullers and Huston opens and closes his film with it.
It's isn't the warning of the quotation that robs the movie of suspense, but of Huston's repetition of obvious elements.
Brando is shown as secretly admiring a young soldier on the post, even takes to following him around like a love-sick swain. The young soldier, on the other hand, gives in to an urge to sneak into Miss Taylor's bedroom where he sits quietly while she sleeps, disappearing at dawn.
WITH ALL OF THIS tiptoeing in and out in the middle of the night it isn't the climax that is surprising but the amount of time it takes in arriving.
There is nothing terribly subtle about Huston's handling of his themes of lust and perversion. It is surprising that this expert director would resort to a couple of moments that are both crude and silly.
This will be a film remembered for having a nude male riding a horse bareback.
And when the characters are not breathing heavily they darn near talk each other to death using expressions that leave no doubt about their ancestry.
The movie was filmed in Technicolor but Huston did some tinkering with the final print that leaves it looking like a black and white movie with a wandering spot of occasional pink.