5 July 2002 | JuguAbraham
Burton is enchanting, Taylor beautiful
Taylor's physical allure is best captured by the wooden sculpture done by Kara for the film. Burton reprises a similar role to his magnificent one of a defrocked priest in "Night of Iguana"--only here he is not eventually defrocked. Burton is superb at showing internal turmoil and it is a shame that so many good performances, many of which were nominated for an Oscar (7 in all), were all bypassed by the Academy.
Minnelli must have cast Burton for the role after Huston's success with Burton in "Iguana". Taylor's agnostic rebellious life and Burton's religious moral life explode on contact and tower over all the other actors in this movie. Though Minnelli is respected for his direction, this effort of his will not be considered a major work.
Eva Marie Saint's role is elegant but not developed beyond the obvious--where are her sons mentioned in the dialogues? What's her relationship with them? Minnelli obviously took interest in the main plot, not the subplots--which is strange for an accomplished director.
The screenplay at times is very strong, e.g., with Burton's clever intonations of his repartees quoting the "Book of Proverbs" and the young child innocently reciting Chaucer in "Olde English". In retrospect the film had good tools: a good script and a good cast. But the tools in the hands of Minnelli did not sculpt a great Kara statue.