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

Monday, December 31, 2007

SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY


SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY (1965). Director: Eber Lobato. NOTE: Certain key plot points are discussed in this review.

Okay, this is a rarity, a kind of semi-gay psychological thriller done in the sixties, a little ahead of its time in some ways and a little homophobic in others. David (Nick Navarro) is arrested for running over Marla, the married woman (Nelida Lobato) he was having an affair with. Most of the film consists of flashbacks interspersed with scenes in district attorney Farmer's (Robert Miller) office, as he, the public defender (Ron Vesario), and the prosecuting ADA (John Richards) debate what's to be done with David, and if he is truly guilty. David's lawyer says that the key is a man named Christian (Alan J. Smith), who lives with David, and has made him realize that he, like Christian, is essentially gay. (Smith also co-wrote the screenplay). When Marla discovers this she's horrified that she risked her marriage by having an affair with someone like David, who "doesn't even know which fence you're sitting on." In truth, Scream of the Butterfly isn't very good but it certainly contains interesting elements. It sets up an interesting situation, has some striking visual images, and moves along quickly enough to hold the viewer's attention, at least initially. The trouble is that it was made too early to take advantage of more sophisticated attitudes toward homosexuality. The three actors in the D.A.'s office are all very good but the rest of the cast is uneven, sometimes amateurish. Lobato, whose husband directed the film (they were an Argentine couple), was certainly well cast, however. Despite the intriguing plot this doesn't quite work, but it has some sexy and effective scenes (such as the first meeting of Marla and David) and a kind of nifty "twist" ending which could be taken more than one way.
Verdict: At least it's something different. **.

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