Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer Under the Stars: Ava Gardner

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Ava Gardner - Stardates: Born December 24, 1922, Grabtown, NC; died 1990. Star Sign: Capricorn. Star Qualities: Feline beauty, earthiness, suggestion of wildness beneath the glamour. Galaxy of Characters: Jean Ogilvie in The Hucksters, Victoria Jones in Bhowani Junction, Moira Davidson in On the Beach, Maxine Faulk in The Night of the Iguana.

Tennessee Williams went south-of-the-border for his Tony Award nominated play The Night of the Iguana, which was turned into this Academy Award winning film directed by John Huston. Gardner played Maxine Faulk (a role originated on Broadway by Bette Davis), a lusty hotel owner who drops her two hot tamale boy toys when Richard Burton's defrocked Episcopal minister-turned-tour guide comes to Puerto Vallarta, bringing scandal with him.

Seems Burton has caught the eye of a vixenish Lolita (Sue Lyon, who played Kubrick's Lolita), and her jealous, repressed lesbian aunt Judith Fellows (Grayson Hall, in an Oscar nominated performance) is none too happy about it. Throw in Deborah Kerr as a chaste itinerant painter and Cyril Delevanti as her dying poet grandfather, and you have all the makings of a typical Williams melodrama. For proof, just watch the steamy trailer, which must have caused quite a stir back in 1964.

The Night of the Iguana airs early Friday on TCM at 12:30 AM EST.

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