Reflections in a Golden Eye

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Reflections in a Golden Eye, a 1967 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando and Julie Harris, directed by John Huston, and based on a book by Carson McCullers.

This article written and copyright 2008 by Will Johnson [1].

Casting Note

When Montgomery Clift was side-lined as being uninsurable, Elizabeth agreed to put up her own money as a bond, so he could play opposite her in 1967's Reflections in a Golden Eye. But, since shooting had not commenced at Monty's death, his part was subsequently played by Marlon Brando.

Plot

Elizabeth Taylor plays Leonora Penderton, the wife of an Army officer Major Weldon Penderton, played by Marlon Brando. Leonora is having an affair with an older officer Lt. Col. Morris Langdon played by Brian Keith. She also sometimes trades barbs with Weldon about Weldon's inability to satisfy her, and her own outrageous behavior. Meanwhile Robert Forster, in his film debut, as Private L.G. Williams is a Peeping Tom, spying on all the other players from afar. He is also spotted riding one of the horses while nude, and he breaks into the Penderton house in order to watch Leonora sleep. Meanwhile Morris' wife Alison Langdon played by Julie Harris is recovering from mental problems caused by the death of their daughter some years before. She mostly stays in her room, keeping amused with her Filipino houseboy Anacleto played by Zorro David.

The Army base has horses and all the characters go out riding from time-to-time. Brando takes Taylor's horse out alone, and the high-spirited horse acts up, at one point dragging Brando along the ground. Brando takes out his revenge by whipping the horse. Pvt. Williams appears, nude, and leads the horse back to the stables where he tends the wounds. When Taylor finds out about the whipping, she whips Weldon with a riding-crop in front of their cocktail party guests.

Alison having insomnia, has been noticing someone going in and out of the Penderton house in the night. Finally she rushes over, thinking it's her husband. Running upstairs she turns on the light only to find Pvt. Williams sitting in Leonora's room sniffing her undergarments, while she is sound asleep. Returning home, for some reason Alison takes this time to announce to her husband that she is divorcing him. He then has her committed to a sanitarium, where she dies the next day of a rather convenient "coronary".

Meanwhile tiny details start to point to some sort of infatuation developing between Weldon Penderton and L.G. Williams, in addition we learn that Williams is a virgin. When Williams collects the whipped horse, he does so in the nude, knowing that Weldon is right there. Notice how L.G. knows that Weldon is following him after the boxing match and deliberately drops his crumpled candy-bar wrapper which Weldon then picks up and keeps. When they choose a horse to ride in the stables, they both have a first choice of "the black mare".

"There's much to be said for the life of men, among men." - Weldon

Weldon follows Williams to his barracks and then leaves. That night Williams again returns to the Weldon house. This time Weldon sees him outside in the dark and thinks that he is coming to see him. He straightens his hair, puts out the light and waits by his open door. But Williams goes into Leonora's room instead. Weldon comes in, turns on the light, and Williams is sitting there looking right at him as Leonora sleeps. Weldon shoots Williams dead. Leonora wakes up and starts screaming hysterically seeing the dead man on the floor and her husband with a gun. The camera skitters back and forth between the body, Leonora screaming and Weldon standing in the doorway.

(Buy it on VHS, or DVD, or watch it on YouTube part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12)

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