For over thirty years, I have unsuccessfully searched for Mourning Becomes Electra and, today, have finally seen it. My anticipation grew exponentially this morning as I readied to view the 1947 movie and its unfold of the saga Mannon.
Yes, TCM would be featuring the Dudley Nichols effort that had miserable box office returns. In fact, receipts back then totaled what would one ultimately amount to less than today’s average price for a here house in Raleigh.
Well, I can see how Russell was nominated for an Academy Award. I can see how she lost, although her appetite was surely well-whet from scenery. And we all remember that Loretta Young twinkle.
The adaptation of the O’Neill cycle drama based on the Oedipal tragedy, here, becomes quite the Greek farce. The altogether dated movie, beginning with the once relevant but today made trite “Shenandoah” overture, is chock full of Thursday’s anachronisms.
The score was undoubtedly perfect when the drama premiered on Broadway. It today, however, falls as flat as the backdrop painted with the immediate front view of the Mannon mansion.
To its credit, the story combines timeless themes such as: the savagery of war, family disfunction gone awry, suicide, murder, and incest. The little-veiled theme of the latter is surprisingly titillating and modern, not in its occurrence. O’Neill certainly doesn’t shy away from the various Sophoclean relationships and any combination therein. Henry and Marigold are well aware of such proclivities but only from afar … as they spy on the outdoor pusses and their cohorts.
Iconic Greek actress and Academy Award winner, Katina Paxinou, is dreadfully miscast and distracting as Christine in her flouncy hoop skirts and unabashed accent.
I’ll give you Sir Michael Redgrave and Raymond Massey, both giving adequate performances and playing against type. In fact, Sir Mike is perhaps the best part of MBE, at least according to Henry.
Finally and most generally, It was difficult to even remember that it was set in post Civil War Maine. That, though, suggests the cruel wear of time, not any fault of direction, script, or acting.
Fiddle-De-Dee. (OOPS. Wrong movie. Wrong side.) The 173 minutes were nonetheless happily spent. MBE was fun to watch and at least my Pop Culture bucket list is now shorter by one.
Now “go fasten all the shutters and throw out the flowers!”
Forgive me, Sr Edward Patricia. I titled this post with a playful take on one of the better known O’Neill quotes.
Forgive me, Gentle Readers for my unbridled and slightly caustic pre-weekend ramblings. It’s been far too long since my beloved and I have actually stepped inside a movie theater.