The Sandpiper (1965)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Jun 23, 1965 (USA)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Despite the participation of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Vincente Minnelli and Dalton Trumbo (not to mention Eva Marie Saint and Charles Bronson), there's precious little to like in the tawdry bit of fluff called The Sandpiper. In fact, the movie is chiefly notable for its Oscar-winning theme song, "The Shadow of Your Smile," which while not a truly great song still managed to make a much more lasting impression than did the film itself. While "borrowed" from Somerset Maugham's Rain, Sandpiper takes that dated-but-effective classic and turns it into a pretentious, actively annoying wallow, filled to the brim with at-the-time-trendy buzzwords and shallow attitudes. It's amazing that Trumbo, along with a trio of other screenwriters, came up with such a trashy yet dull and boring screenplay. Minnelli doesn't know where to begin to make this mess work, so he mostly concentrates on physical detail, atmosphere and some beautiful location work (and shots of his beautiful leads, of course). Burton and Taylor smolder a lot, but it's all affected and a put-on. Saint and Bronson manage to come off slightly better, but the best performance arguably comes from young Morgan Mason as the troubled child who sets the plot in motion. True fans of the stars, the director or overwrought soaps with empty intellectual pretensions may enjoy, but most viewers will find it not worth the trouble.