A ‘Glass’ Half Empty: More on The Glass Menagerie (for Parterre Box)

Cameron Kelsall: I rarely seek out reviews of something I plan to write about before I’ve written, but after taking in Paul Newman’s cinematic adaptation of The Glass Menagerie from 1987, I was curious what the critical reception was at the time of its release. I did a quick survey and found a line in the New York Timesappraisal that, to me, sums up the strengths and weaknesses of this treatment: critic Janet Maslin describes it as “a serious and respectful adaptation, but never an incendiary one.” Bingo. And that’s a problem when you consider the various emotional, societal and psychological elements at work in the text. TGM, when done right, should be incendiary. Here, it’s sepia-toned.

David Fox: Sepia-toned indeed, though to me at least in some prints, it looks more orange-y than that. I actually saw this in a movie theater when it first opened, and remember remarking to my companion that it looked to be shot through marmalade. Watching it again, I realize it’s subtler than that—really, there are two color palettes. The sepia stands in for memory, while a colder silvery gray marks the framing device, as Tom visits the ruins of their old neighborhood and now-vacant apartment. To me, both are problematic. Today’s world is too explicitly realistic—and, more critically, the marmalade-glazed past is far too sentimental…

Read the full post at Parterre Box.

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