The Sandpiper (1965)

TV-14   |    |  Drama


The Sandpiper (1965) Poster

A free-spirited single mother forms a connection with the wed headmaster of an Episcopal boarding school in California.

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6.3/10
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  • "Sandpiper" Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton 1965 MGM MPTV
  • Elizabeth Taylor in The Sandpiper (1965)
  • "Sandpiper" Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on location 1965 © 1978 Bernie Abramson MPTV
  • Elizabeth Taylor on location at Big Sur California for "The Sandpiper"
  • "Sandpiper" Elizabeth Taylor 1965 MGM MPTV
  • Eva Marie Saint in The Sandpiper (1965)

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30 April 2006 | writerasfilmcritic
6
| Big Sur Shines in This Story of Illicit Love
"The Sandpiper" is not a great movie but it has a certain appeal and is graced by some beautiful seascapes along the rugged Big Sur coastline. The opening sequence, a montage of steep emerald hills and deep blue sea shot from a helicopter, is particularly well done, featuring a deer dashing up one of the oak-covered slopes, building swells breaking on the rocky shore, and one or two fiery red sunsets. Similar scenes continue to bolster the sense of setting throughout the movie. The storyline, although interesting, can't quite live up to the dramatic natural location. The love affair between Richard Burton, a jaded Episcopalian priest and headmaster at a boys school in San Simeon, and Elizabeth Taylor, an alienated artist seeking peace and solitude at an isolated beach house, is reasonably convincing. Yet the priest already has a comely wife in the form of Eva Marie Saint and his motivation for stepping outside their marriage isn't well explained, except that he wants to recapture the idealism of his youth. When a local judge orders that Taylor's troubled son must attend Burton's school, he is almost instantly attracted to her and apparently there is nothing to be done about it.

Set in the mid-sixties, when sexual morays were loosening but we were still in the grip of a churchy moralism, this had to be a controversial film, and I vaguely recall that it was. You can visit the locations used in the movie because some are easily recognizable, such as the store/club/restaurant in Big Sur known as "Nepenthe." And of course, there are the famous stone bridges on Highway One spanning two or three of the rugged chasms. Coursing through the movie, especially during the several seascapes, is the theme "The Shadow of Your Smile." It's a nice movie, if not a great one, and worth seeing more than once.

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