Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Mar 21, 1962 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Although tough-guy director Richard Brooks was probably not the ideal choice to convert a Tennessee Williams play to the screen, Production Code-enforced cuts also damaged what had already been acknowledged as one of the playwright's weaker efforts. The story deals with a washed-up substance-abusing star (Geraldine Page) and her gigolo/aspiring actor companion (Paul Newman) who return to his California hometown so he can briefly visit his former girlfriend (Shirley Knight). Critic Walter Kerr once observed that any stage work in which all the characters are evil, is, in fact, a comedy. That description is close enough to the effect of this overripe Gothic melodrama. The original play, which included the then-controversial mention of abortion, and concluded with castration, had to be altered for the film, but fidelity would not have helped this mishmash. Boasting the largest collection of pathological characters outside a Jacobean bloodbath, the unbelievable dramatic action unfolds in a manner which suggests that Williams' perfervid paranoia had gotten the best of him on this occasion. Nonetheless, this is still Williams and there are some passages of his signature lyricism. The excellent strong-arm cast includes Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Ed Begley, Madeleine Sherwood, and Mildred Dunnock.