Sunday, May 1, 2011

BOOK VS MOVIE: Orpheus Descending/The Fugitive Kind

The most notable plays of Tennessee Williams are A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Glass Menagerie. Williams has written works not as well known as these plays, but some are well-written.

One of the plays in question is Orpheus Descending, which was adapted into a movie by Sidney Lumet under the title The Fugitive Kind. They're about a drifter arriving in a new town and rumors start to spread about him and a general store owner's wife.

Now Orpheus Descending isn't as great as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or A Streetcar Named Desire, but it's pretty good. Although, some moments felt a little flat actually.

Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani, the two stars of The Fugitive Kind, were no strangers to Williams' work. After all, their big breaks as actors were thanks to Williams (Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire on stage, Magnani in The Rose Tattoo on screen).

I have to get something off my chest about Brando's work. There are tints of Stanley Kowalski in Brando's role of Val Xavier. One similarity between the two parts is that both men exude enough raw sexuality to make a woman weak in the knees, something Brando was quite skilled at back in the day.

The play wasn't great and neither was the movie. But I thought that The Fugitive Kind was better structured than Orpheus Descending. Can you really go wrong with Lumet to begin with?

What's worth checking out?: I'd go with the movie.

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