PIC of the Week – The Beguiled
Article series by Ray Schillaci
This week saw the premiere of Sofia Coppola’s version of the Don Siegel’s classic, The Beguiled. Coppola peppered her production with a strong female cast – Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning – along with sumptuous cinematography and beautiful set and costume design. But, she also saddled us with Colin Farrell, and a pacing that takes the wind out of the suspense. Whereas in 1971, producer/director Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) delivered Clint Eastwood in what some would consider one of his best roles. ’71’s The Beguiled was not a box office success, but eventually went on to win praise years later.
Apparently, in the beginning, Universal did not know how to handle the gothic thriller about a wounded Union soldier being taken in by seven women in a seminary for young ladies in rural Mississippi. Sexual tensions mount and Eastwood’s character is basically emasculated. It was Clint playing against type, but it worked so well, and all the worth revisiting over the recent reboot. Geraldine Page (The Trip to Bountiful, The Day of the Locusts) turns in a bravura performance as Martha, which Kidman plays well, but Page is iconic.
As always, Siegel’s direction is tight. The director acutely balances love, despair, and shame while presenting a tawdry tale of revenge and assault. It’s both uncomfortable and engaging, and one of Don Siegel’s most accomplished films.
So, I’m going against the grain here instead of giving you a just released movie on the home entertainment front, I’m spring boarding off a reboot released this week, and backflipping for the original which had a 2015 Blu release date from Universal. Unfortunately, the big U has not given us anything more with this release, but a trailer. Let’s hope in the future that Criterion picks up this little gem and gives it a proper presentation. But for now…
Amazon – Blu – $9.40 (a steal of a deal)