Were You In The Boat When The Boat Tipped Over Movie Review – The Night of the Iguana (1964)

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Movie Review – The Night of the Iguana (1964)

A timeless classic directed and co-written by John Huston from another great stage play by Tennessee Williams. Anthony Weiller was Houston’s co-owner. 10 out of 10 for Dorothy Jeakins despite not winning an Oscar other than Best Black and White Costume Design. Good for Jeakins. But the lack of Oscars for Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Director for this movie is nothing more than a joke for the rest of the movie fans.

I know it’s not polite to watch a movie for the “message”. (“Use Western Union instead!” As the old joke goes.)

But I still think there’s a very clear “core” to the phrase, expressed by Deborah Kerr (played by Hannah Jelkes, a delicate artist who travels the world with her poet grandfather and earns what she can with quick live sketches). i think Second Law:

“Accepting life is indeed the first condition of living it.”

The volatile trio of Richard Burton (Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon), Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner (Maxine Falk) weave a very humane and moving story about the fall and redemption of an Episcopalian pastor and his desperate struggle. to keep his spirits up and find solace other than alcohol.

Tennessee Williams and John Huston treat us to the agony of Reverend Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon, caught between the demands of being a man of God and a man of God by removing one layer after another of the human soul. the temptations of his body and mind as the average creation of the same power. His unexpected escape is provided by Hannah Jelkes and Maxine Faulk, who, like the others, tries to manage but fails for his own good.

The film begins with the “captive” motif on all levels. Parishioners are trapped by their own blindness and rigidity. Reverend Shannon was imprisoned because of his volcanic desires and disillusionment with his church. A wild iguana is forced to live in captivity, tied to a wooden deck with a tight rope around its neck.

When that “night of the iguana” is over, they are all freed from their bonds, fears, and limitations, including the iguana. It was Tennessee Williams’ life-changing night brought to life for us. 42 years after the film’s release, it’s still rocking and liberating.

The story, on a “realistic” level (one of the two levels of existence raised in the film), is not complicated at all. It is on another and “fantastic” level that its time-dissolving magic slowly unfolds like an intoxicating rose.

Reverend Shannon loses his job after accusing his parishioners of insincerity and shallowness and kicking them out of his church.

A few years later, we find him as a tour guide in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, taking a group of elderly women on a sightseeing tour to show them the “miracles of God,” as the “man of God” explains. . However, he certainly doesn’t like the overt advances of one of the tour’s contestants, 17-year-old Charlotte Goodall. Eventually, when he returned home, another young passionate parishioner visited his parish office, and he ran into trouble. Although the reverend first offered to kneel and pray together, this soon led to other things that ended his church career.

Reverend Shannon does everything she can to keep Charlotte away, but she’s the spoiled daughter of a very successful and wealthy man and she won’t take no for an answer. As he pushes himself on the alcoholic Shannon, his secret admirer and tour manager Judith Fellows (played like a hot knife through butter by Grayson Hall) becomes jealous and makes life very miserable for the vulnerable Shannon.

Although Shannon is stuck in a bottle, still trying to get her life back together, her internal system can’t handle Fellowes’ brutal attacks – he threatens to arrest her for “seduction of a minor”. they return to the United States. Unable to face the reality of his attraction to the “pretty dove” Charlotte, Fellowes vows to destroy Shannon’s second career and livelihood, and he looks set to carry out his threat.

To make sure this career-altering development doesn’t happen, Shannon takes the whole group to a mountaintop retreat run by her old flame Maxine Faulk (Ava Gardner). a lonely interior scene. By stealing the bus’s distributor cap, he makes sure they can’t turn back, but they stay there for a while until Fellowes’ anger subsides to a manageable level.

The group is soon joined by traveling sketch artist Hannah Jelkes (Deborah Kerr) and her wheelchair-bound poet grandfather. They provide a gentle but firm ballast to balance the mercurial outbursts of Reverend Shannon and the equally explosive Falk.

A pivotal event occurs in the second act when Reverend Shannon is tied to a pig to help him cope with the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism. Playing her savior, Hannah helps Shannon exorcise her demons by teaching her an unforgettable lesson about love.

The scene opens with Shannon, a priest still struggling to break free from prison, very confident in the superiority of his life’s exploits and experience, asking Hannah if she’s ever had any love affairs in her life.

“Two,” he admitted to Shannon’s surprise, continuing to recount his two experiences, both of which didn’t seem at all like what Shannon would normally describe as a “love affair.”

Hannah was only sixteen years old when she had her first “love experience”. When a young man pressed his knee into her knee at a Nantucket movie theater, she screamed loudly and had the young man arrested. Later, he regretfully retracted his complaint, saying that because it was a Greta Garbo movie, he was simply “excited” and therefore overreacted and created such a scene.

His second “romance”, which took place only 4 years ago, is a more interesting episode. An Aussie underwear salesman she had sketched in a Hong Kong hotel asked her to join him for a sampan ride. He accepted the offer because he was a very gentle person and he gave him very good advice for the sketch. On the boat, the Australian salesman got “more nervous” and asked her to do him a favor. She told him to turn her back if she handed him his clothes, which Hannah did.

At this point, Shannon asks him what he did with the salesman’s clothes. Hanna says she has no idea because he turned her back on her too. And that was it. End of story.

Reverend Shannon was once again impressed, and their memorable exchange is as follows:

Reverend Shannon: “And this experience, you call it…”

Hannah: “Love experience. Yes, I will do Mr. Shannon.”

Reverend Shannon: “It’s a sad little dirty episode, you name it . . .”

Hannah: “Unfortunately, it was for the poor man, but why are you calling him dirty?”

Reverend Shannon: “You mean you didn’t hate it?”

Hanna: “Mr. Shannon, no man disgusts me, unless it’s cruel or violent. I told you how gentle he is. Forgiving. Shy. Really, really, really…subtle about it.”

Then he released her, listening to her story, saying that she was now “overwhelmed” by all the excitement in her heart. Why? Because he now not only reacts to life, but also accepts it. And he says another memorable line: “Accepting life is undoubtedly the first condition for living it.”

Another story is that Hanna’s grandfather died after writing his best poem on the night of the iguana.

The next day, a group of traveling women leave Shannon, who Falk offers to run the spa and restaurant because she’s too sick and tired of doing the whole show alone. For the first time, she is enjoying the freedom to let go of control over her work and life and share it all with the one she loves. In addition, the presence of a man helps make her business more attractive to female tourists, she says.

Hannah is offered the same, but prefers to act as the independent spirit that she is. He freed Shannon from her deadly bonds and her job was done. It moves like a summer wind drawing under the armpit. We’re sure the “elements” will take care of it.

In the final scene, Shannon and Falk decide to start a new life together at the resort, hopefully a new life laced with self-awareness, tolerance, and illuminated by truth, a life of freedom where even the iguanas live freely.

A must see for all movie lovers. It should be an integral part of every film lover’s “school curriculum”.

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