Legendary director Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) had a knack for creating cinematic creations from some of history's greatest plays, novels, and true stories. Whether it was his iconic examination of Reginald Rose's timeless 12 Angry Men; Al Pacino's Sonny's bizarre bank robbery in Dog Day Afternoon; or a harrowing study of domestic and familial breakdown that surfaces Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Lumet brought his own stylistic flourishes that continue to be beloved to this today. However, and this is painful for me to do this, but if I had to choose his most divided work, it has to be 1960's The Fugitive Kind, which is going to be released on Blu-ray for the first time by Criterion.
The film stars Marlon Brando as a guitar-playing drifter who ends up in Mississippi town after his car breaks down. His smoldering presence stirs up a weird love triangle involving himself and two very different women: Lady Torrence (Anna Magnani), the weary Italian wife of an ill husband who owns the local store he gets a job in, and Carol Cutrere (Joanne Woodward), the beautiful, but brash youngster, whose constant flirting puts a strain on everything.
As modest as it is, it does have some obvious flaws, especially the relationship between Brando and Magnani, which is rather unconvincing. Also, the premise is not entirely complex, but I did appreciate the effort Lumet tried to commit to, and the cinematography by Boris Kaufman. The Blu-ray has the following supplements: archival interview with Lumet from 2009; archival program Hollywood's Tennessee and "The Fugitive Kind", and Three Plays by Tennessee Williams: three one-act plays by Lumet that also includes an intro by Williams. It's definitely not my favorite Williams adaptation, nor my favorite Lumet film, but if you happen to love it, then it should be a good addition to your collection.
Other notable releases:
Brewster's Millions (1985): Walter Hill's adaptation of the George Barr McCutcheon novel, starring the great Richard Pryor as a minor league baseball player who has to spend $30 million in 30 days in order to inherit $300 million, but things get complicated after he learns that he can't inform anyone about the deal.
Room at the Top: Laurence Harvey plays an ambitious youth who is frustrated with his job and goes after the boss' daughter, thinking she's his link to the big time. However, his upbringing and the girl's parents cause him to find romance with a lonely older woman, which inevitably leads to his tragic undoing.
The Whisperers: A lonely old woman living alone in a rundown apartment begins to believe the "voices" in her head that she is being plotted against. As it turns out, her suspicions are right, but no one will come to her rescue.
The Great McGinty: Bartender Dan McGinty (Brian Donlevy) stops a man from committing suicide. This leads to a flashback to his youth as he recounts joining a corrupt political boss, who tries to get him to marry his secretary to give him a leg up for mayor. Dan ends up falling in love with the boss's wife, which changes his life's prospects.