Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ebert on Reflections In A Golden Eye

Roger Ebert isn't just my favorite critic, he's one of my favorite writers. I was thirteen when my mother bought me a collection of his four star-reviews, a prophetic impulse-buy for her burgeoning cinephile of a middle child. I studied that book like scripture and through it I discovered many films.

One of the films Ebert introduced me to (either in that book or in one of the dozen or so of his guide books that I bought afterward) was John Huston's bizarre REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Years later, I'd get to see the film on the big screen at the AFI Silver.

Is it brilliant? Is it awful? Is it some kind of camp masterpiece somewhere in the middle? To be frank, you could make a compelling argument for any of these points of view. One thing is for sure: Huston and his stars fearlessly pursue Carson McCullers's southern gothic vision exactly where she wanted it to go. Huston might well have been the greatest adapter of books in the history of cinema--think THE MALTESE FALCON, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE, THE MAN WOULD BE KING, WISE BLOOD--and this movie should be on the list of his notable accomplishments. Love it or hate it, I bet you you've never seen anything like it.

Taylor's death brought the movie to mind, and it brought to mind the impact of Ebert's essay. Lo and behold, it must have been on his mind as well because he posted his review over at his website. To get a sense of it's impact, the impact of a great critic on one's perception of a difficult film, read the essay here.

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