Friday, April 30, 2010

Williams + Brando

The Fugitive Kind (Criterion), an uneasy 1961 compendium of playwright Tennessee Williams’ usual themes (directed with a sure hand by Sidney Lumet), is saved from drowning in its own self-plagiarism by the bracing performances of a trio of terrific actresses—Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward and Maureen Stapleton—all drawn to Marlon Brando’s charismatic drifter. Although not yet under the weight of his own “legend,” Brando plays Brando more than a real character. This Criterion release boasts a first-rate transfer of this gorgeously photographed (by Boris Kaufman) B&W non-classic, and a second disc features a plethora of enticing extras: a new Lumet interview; Three Plays by Tennessee Williams, a trio of one-acts directed by Lumet starring Ben Gazzara and Lee Grant, and originally shown on TV in 1958; and a short discussion about Hollywood’s adaptations of Williams’ work.
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