DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS (1958). Director: Delbert Mann.
An interesting and absorbing, if imperfect, screen adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's licentious play. Ephriam Cabot (Burl Ives) is a miserable old man who brings home a pretty Italian wife, Anna (Sophia Loren), who married him so she'd finally have a home of her own. At first Anna and Ephriam's son Eben (Anthony Perkins), who despises his father, fight their attraction to one another, but eventually they fall in love -- with extremely dire consequences. Ives doesn't quite dig beneath his character's surface bluster, and Loren, while good, feisty and credible in her early scenes, isn't quite up to the much more difficult moments later on. Perkins gives the best performance in the film as the troubled, determined and tormented Eben. Pernell Roberts and Frank Overton are fine as Eben's half-brothers, and Rebecca Welles -- and especially Jean Willes -- offer spirited performances as their wives. Anne Seymour has some good moments at the opening as Eben's mother, who's determined that the land -- which originally was hers -- will someday belong to her son. Well photographed by Daniel L. Fapp and with a fine score by Elmer Bernstein.
Verdict: Passionate if flawed. ***.