18 April 2002 | asakolinsky
As a result of the numerous re-makes of this haunting classic this original film version is often overlooked. Irving Rapper's delicate direction and economical style are the perfect compliments to Tennessee Williams' haunting prose. While Paul Newman's more recent filming of The Glass Menagerie with wife Joanne Woodward is more faithful to the play's text, his use of colour and a much weaker supporting cast makes the 1950 version more compelling viewing. The talented Karen Allen is not nearly as heartbreaking as Academy Award winner Jane Wyman in the crucial role of Laura. Arthur Kennedy and Kirk Douglas also out perform their more contemporary counterparts. Having now seen a number of actresses fail to live up to the considerable challenges of playing Amanda Wingfield it is easier to appreciate the virtues of the rather miscast Gertrude Lawrence(the film producers had wanted Tallulah Bankhead but felt her unfit to complete filming, they also wanted Bette Davis but her falling out with Jack Warner left her out of the running).According to Elia Kazan a nervous Charles Feldman re-cut the film thus somewhat compromising its integrity. However even with its flaws it is the only filmed version which fully captures the tragic atmosphere of Williams' brilliant play.