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Drama - Romantic

Night of the Iguana (1964)


Duration 2h 5m Rating (UK) X
Source of story A play of the same name by Tennessee Williams
Director John Huston
Writers/Script Anthony Veiller, John Huston
Starring Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon, Grayson Hall,

Elevator Pitch: It is the 1940s. A discredited priest, Lawrence Shannon, is acting as a tour guide on the Mexican coast, and is being accused of having sex with a minor who is travelling with her aunt. In order to control the situation he directs the tour bus to a down at the heel hotel run by his friends Fred and Maxine, although Fred has died. The tour party disembark and the minor, Charlotte, continues to show interest in Shannon. Things are going from bad to worse, but when itinerant artist, Hannah, and her grandfather arrive things could get better.

Content: It might have been an X in 1964, but it’s pretty tame today. Maxine’s Mexican houseboys capture the iguana and tie it up under the house. There is a lot of drinking and some smoking. Charlotte cozies up to Shannon, mostly to his discomfort, but by the end changes her affections to Shannon’s assistant, the bus driver. Charlotte’s aunt shouts a lot. Maxine enjoys everyone’s discomfort and frolics in the sea with her houseboys. Hannah is helped by Shannon and at various times, in return, imparts a bit of wisdom to him.

A View: I am a fan of Tennessee Williams whose writing is wonderfully over the top, and if anything the film is toned down a bit, but still a lot of fun. It was liked by 10 of the 14 critics who reviewed it for Rotten Tomatoes. Ava Gardner is described by more than one as “lusty”. I had a look at the play and if anything the relationships between Shannon, Hannah and Maxine are not quite as well defined in the film, but if you enjoy movies of plays (not for everyone apparently) it is worth a couple of hours of your time.

Additional Info: The film apparently put the sleepy Mexican fishing village, Puerto Vallarta on the map, now a tourist destination with hundreds of hotel rooms and a statue of John Huston in the Plaza Major.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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