Friday, April 26, 2013

Robert Rossen's Lilith


Lilith (1964) was the last film made by Robert Rossen (A Walk in the Sun, All the King's Men original, The Hustler). It's easy to watch with Jean Seberg in the title role, Warren Beatty as an occupational therapist in training, Peter Fonda as a fragile, sensitive mental patient, Kim Hunter as head of the swank "Funny Farm" in Rockville, Maryland, where most of the action takes place, and Jessica Walter and Gene Hackman as a goofy married couple. I really enjoyed this. It's sort of like watching a prototype for Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, with its pulse on the rapidly changing 1960s. There are several African American characters, but they aren't given any dialogue. There are cloistered lesbians and there's a philosophical "Dostoyevsky," as well as musings on mental illness and artistic ability. Then there's the bored wife who tells her ex-boyfriend Vincent Bruce (the Warren Beatty character, a somehwat PTSD'd veteran of an unspecified war -- hard to tell which, there have been so many) something like, "I told you we had to wait till marriage before we could have sex." Pause. "Well, I'm married now. . ."  Good one.

The movie is shot in black and white. Rossen does a nice job with both interiors and exteriors. Jean Seberg eats up the role of Lilith -- great stuff. Too bad Seberg committed suicide in "real life" in 1979, at age 40. Apparently, Warren Beatty was a huge pain in the ass during filming, but he's good showing a man in transition from what seems like slightly unmoored to batshit crazy, thanks to "the  war," "Mommy issues," and his amour fou for Lilith. Peter Fonda plays the role of Stephen in a stylized manner, the nervous and easily hurt gentleman. This would be fun to do as a remake, rearranging the emphasis on certain characters and having the silent ones speak.

Today's Rune: Possessions.  

1 comment:

jodi said...

Erik, Poor Jean having to work with that idiot Warren. Sounds like a full boat on that film!