Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

Confused triangle: Vallone, Sorel and Lawrence
















A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (aka Vu du pont/1962). Director: Sidney Lumet.

NOTE: This review discusses important plot points. Eddie Carbone (Raf Vallone of The Other Side of Midnight), his wife Beatrice (Maureen Stapleton of Interiors), and their niece Catherine (Carol Lawrence) live together near the shipyards in Brooklyn. They take into their home two illegal immigrants, Marco (Raymond Pellegrin), who is older and married, and handsome young Rodolpho (Jean Sorel), who is immediately attracted to Catherine and vice versa. This doesn't sit well with Eddie, who has not slept with his wife in months, and who seems to be obsessed with his pretty niece. Eddie never misses an opportunity to cast doubt on Rodolpho's sexuality because he sings, has blond hair, and other ludicrous reasons, but primarily because he sees him as his rival -- or perhaps is attracted to him and must belittle him in classic closet case fashion. It all culminates in a scene when Eddie first kisses Catherine full on the lips, and then does the same to Rodolpho in a supposed attempt to expose his homosexuality [talk about doing things backwards!] And things become even more melodramatic after that... The main strength of this adaptation of Arthur Miller's play is the acting, which is excellent across the board, especially the performances of a passionate Vallone, sympathetic Stapleton, and lovely, confused Lawrence. Unfortunately, it's all a trifle over-baked and coy at the same time, a combination that doesn't work. The double-kiss probably played on the stage, but it's much more of a dramatic device than anything you can take seriously, almost the stuff of soap opera. Since it's hard to believe that this "macho" guy would want to give a hard smack to Rodolpho's lips if he were really straight, critics ever since have speculated on the possibility that Eddie is a repressed homosexual [and indeed with his homophobia and other acts one can see how it could be interpreted that way]. Was Miller afraid to tackle the subject head on when he wrote the play in the fifties, leaving that sort of thing to Tennessee Williams (who probably would have made a better play out of View) and using Catherine as a "beard?" The ambiguity gives the whole movie a dated air, although it does have some powerful moments.

Verdict: Interesting, with a wonderful lead performance, but just misses being really special. ***.

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