[box cover]

Reflections in a Golden Eye

The Marlon Brando Collection

The adaptation of Carson McCuller's novel Reflections in a Golden Eye was a long time coming to the screen, years in the making well before its 1967 release. It's easy to see why. McCuller's tale of suburban madness on a southern military base is rife with adultery, homosexuality (repressed and otherwise), voyeurism, panty fetishism, sadomasochism, and self-mutilation. In this context, the shooting that ends the story seems almost normal by comparison, if not a relief. In this twisted drama, Brando plays Maj. Weldon Penderton, a repressed homosexual married to a horse-mad alcoholic (Elizabeth Taylor) who is having a barely concealed affair with Penderton's colleague, Lt. Col. Morris Langdon (Brian Keith), whose neurasthenic wife cut off her nipples and who prefers to spend time with her gay houseboy. Originally slated for Montgomery Clift, Brando took up the part after Clift's death, but like other actors in the industry at the time he was apparently leery about playing a gay man. Nevertheless, he threw himself into this unusual part, in which he hungers after a private (Robert Forster) with the habit for nude horseback riding. In one marvelous sequence, Penderton is following his love object through the army base at night. When a car crashes into a telephone pole, everyone turns to look except Penderton, who keeps his haggard gaze fixed on the private (it's a more explicitly homoerotic version of the tennis match scene in Strangers on a Train). Brando here offers up his best performance in years. He wouldn't commit himself to another role as confessional or deep-reaching until Last Tango in Paris. He also respected the director, John Huston, who had the kind of strong directorial personality that Brando favored, and with this film Huston continued his experiments in color initiated with Moulin Rouge. Here he desaturated the image until it was basically three tones, black, white, and yellow. The studio didn't like the results and quickly re-released the film printed in full color. It now appears on DVD restored to the color scheme that conforms to the director's wishes. It's not the most successful cinematic experiment ever attempted, but Warner Home Video respects Huston's ambition with an excellent anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), accompanied by adequate DD 1.0 audio. Supplements consist of trailers for movies in "The Marlon Brando Collection" and a segment called "Vintage Behind the Scenes Footage," which is a lengthy collection of unedited black-and-white footage of the cast rehearsing a scene at a stable (23 min.). Slimcase in the box-set.
—D.K. Holm



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