2 February 2006 | rsoonsa
Downhome Version Of The Elektra Myth, At Times Comical But Cumulatively Neglible.
From whichever domain that currently houses the soul of Aeschylus might be heard rapid rotative sounds if the author of the Oresteian Trilogy would happen to be cognizant of this obvious but perfunctory adaptation, as advertised by the film's producers, of the timeless conflict between Elektra and Clytemnestra. Shelley Winters performs as Cora, a widow whose bereavement is due to homicidal inclinations that she shares with her three sons, their prey a string of husbands, men who are qualified by financial worth while being fatally fond of the well-upholstered finagler. Cora has overplayed her hand, however, because the young daughter, Ellie Mae (Sheila Kennedy), of her latest victim believes that her father was murdered by Cora and her offspring, and is not shy about accusing them of the act. Ellie is fetching and her charms are not ignored by the three sons, nor by Cora's ersatz brother (and actual lover), so that when the virginal lovely feels that the suspicions she harbours respecting her sire's demise have been confirmed, she designs a deadly revenge. This retribution enables Ellie to use her allure upon the male quartet and, while the results can only be considered predictable, a clear opportunity is hereby presented for the succulent Kennedy to doff her clothing, obviously a principal motive for the making of this film. Although not tightly directed, and rather overstretched, these are not sharp disadvantages for this low-budget work shot with style in Dallas and nearby Maypearl, Texas, thanks to unexpectedly high production values, specially as regards the artistic camera technique of cinematographer George Tirl, and additionally skillful visual and sound editing. Amused satisfaction is also to be gained from the singular costumes designed by Christy Haines for Winters, markedly for her character's witty funeral attire. In sum, this is a weakly scripted piece of buffoonery, set within a recognizable social milieu, that provides frothy entertainment through fine comedic turns by George Gobel as a bemused minister overwhelmed by a rash of funeral service requirements, Pat Paulsen as a local sheriff enamoured of the zaftig widow, and Ouida White who enjoys herself as a hilariously overwrought potential home buyer. Tirl makes excellent use of main dish Kennedy while she gambols through a meadow of bluebonnets in the film's most enduring image.