Flame and the Flesh (1954)

Approved   |    |  Drama

Flame and the Flesh (1954) Poster

American woman in Europe romanced by local gigolo; problems ensue.


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1 May 2020 | jromanbaker
| On a second viewing it deserves 4 out of 10
I saw a fuzzy, terrible copy of this a while ago and it was so bad I imagined it hid better filming, better lighting, and a better image of Naples. I have seen it since ( a reasonably good French copy with French subs ) and I found it heavily studio bound, and the colour clearly seen in this copy to be just above average. I also saw Lana Turner's face at the end and the film. The expression on her face was compromised, and so is the film, and I sensed a pandering to the film studio for a ' redeemed ' woman ending. It is an ending that does not go with what went before, and that goes for Carlos Thompson's role as well. Was Richard Brooks the director partly to be blamed ? He did the same thing with ' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ' with its triumphant resurgence of heterosexuality, and in the ending of ' Sweet Bird of Youth ' where of course Paul Newman is forced yet again to destroy the outcome of yet another Tennessee William's source material. Some claim Brook's helped changing censorship. Marginally perhaps. But to return to the' come on ' titled film of ' Flame and the Flesh '. The script a second time around is mediocre; the awful songs inflicted on us by Carlos Thompson seem endless, and Lana Turner is more provocative in the French copy than in the fuzzy one. I can imagine the stills outside the cinema, and X certificated in the UK they must have promised more than they delivered; an English speaking film that explored adult issues in similar fashion to European films. It did not. In fact it turned out to be a double X programme with a terrible Korean war piece of propaganda called ' Prisoner of War '. That was a trashy film, but I give ' Flame and the Flesh ' higher points for its one good performance: Bonar Colleano. who did his best with bad dialogue and who made you believe the inner suffering that Lana Turner inflicts upon him will endure. No compromises in his acting, and to return to Tennessee William's again he was apparently brilliant opposite Vivien Leigh in the London stage production of ' A Streetcar Named Desire '. Despite my criticisms the film should be found and restored.

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