Mourning Becomes Electra is an unwieldy, stagey, occasionally messy but ultimately fascinating and unforgettable motion picture experience. Legitimately criticized both for being too long and for cutting out too much of the mammoth Eugene O'Neill play upon which it is based, Mourning is one of those films that impresses despite its considerable flaws. Many viewers will find it stifling, for director Dudley Nichols was unable to reconceive this masterpiece in appropriately cinematic terms. Yet the source material, even in truncated form, is so strong, so full of passion and rage and overwhelming emotion, that most viewers will still find themselves taken in. Nichols is blessed with some exceptionally strong performances, especially that of Rosalind Russell, whose searing portrayal of the vengeful daughter is frighteningly powerful. If Russell occasionally pushes too hard, it is still with a conviction and skill that are remarkable to see. Matching her is Michael Redgrave, who displays an impressive facility with O'Neill's language (even if his American accent occasionally slips). Katina Paxinou is memorably nasty and Raymond Massey is solid throughout. Mourning has its slow spots, and there are some abrupt changes of tone that are offputting, but the fireworks that erupt when it is at its best more than make up for its deficiencies.
by Craig Butler review