Magazine article American Cinematographer

Reflections in a Golden Eye

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Reflections in a Golden Eye

Article excerpt

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

2.35:1 (16x9 Enhanced)

Dolby Digital Monaural

Warner Home Video, $19.98

"Any fulfillment at the expense of normality is wrong and should not be allowed to bring happiness," observes frustrated U.S. Army Maj. Weldon Penderton (Marion Brando) in Reflections in a Golden Eye. "In short," he continues, "it's better, because it's morally honorable for the square peg to keep scraping about in a round hole rather than to discover and use the unorthodox one that would fit it." Full of self-loathing, Penderton is an officer and teacher at a base in the American South, where he lives with and largely ignores his equally frustrated and occasionally abusive wife, Leonora (Elizabeth Taylor). Leonora is fiercely engaged in a sexual affair with a neighboring officer, Lt. CoI. Langdon (Brian Keith). Langdon, unhappily married to the frigid and emotionally disturbed Alison (Julie Harris), is torn between his feelings of responsibility for his fragile wife's condition and the growing passion he holds for Leonora. As the days go by during an unusually warm autumn, tensions rise when the mysterious Pvt. Wilson (Robert Forster) begins to pay clandestine visits to the Penderton household in the night. Conflicted by his closeted desires, Penderton assumes that Wilson has come for him, but it soon becomes painfully clear that Wilson has designs on Leonora. Before the season ends, the complicated and deceitful relationships between these two homes erupt with cataclysmic results.

John Huston's peculiar and absorbing adaptation of Carson McCuller's Reflections in a Golden Eye has long been an obscure cult title, available only in an out-of-print VHS edition and through rare showings on cable television. The movie was shot in Italy by cinematographer Aldo Tonti, and his work on the picture has two distinct traits: wide-open exteriors of fields and forests that surround the base, and tight, dramatically lit interiors of the homes in which the main characters fester. The exterior sequences especially highlight the various characters' penchant for horseback riding, and are all cleverly character-specific - Penderton's riding is shot tightly and fragmented; Leonora and Langdon are passionate and competitive as they jump hurdles; and Wilson brazenly rides naked through the forest.

The most controversial aspect of the film's look was Huston's decision to use a special lab process to desaturate the colors and leave a sepia, golden sheen. …

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