The Night of the Iguana (film)
|The Night of the Iguana|
Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning
|Directed by||John Huston|
|Produced by||John Huston
|Written by||Tennessee Williams (play) John Huston
Anthony Veiller (screenplay)
|Music by||Benjamin Frankel|
|Studio||Seven Arts Productions|
|Release date(s)||August 6, 1964|
|Running time||125 minutes|
The film won the 1964 Academy Award for Best Costume Design, and was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. Actress Grayson Hall received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and Cyril Delevanti received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Plot summary 
The preface to the story shows Episcopal priest Reverend Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) having a "nervous breakdown" after being ostracized by his congregation for having an inappropriate relationship in Virginia with "a very young Sunday school teacher."
Two years later, Shannon, now a tour guide for bottom-of-the-barrel Texas company Blake Tours, is taking a group of Baptist School teachers by bus to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The group's brittle group leader is Miss Judith Fellowes (Grayson Hall), whose 17-year-old niece Charlotte Goodall (Sue Lyon) tries to seduce Shannon. Charlotte's aunt, described as "butch" by the other characters, accuses Shannon of trying to seduce her niece and declares that she will ruin him.
In a moment of despair, Shannon shanghais the bus and occupants, and tries to prevent Fellowes from calling his boss by stranding their bus at a cheap (and, he mistakenly thinks, phoneless) Costa Verde Hotel in Mismaloya on the coast. Shannon thinks that the hotel is still run by an old friend named Fred, but finds that the man died recently, and the hotel is now run by Fred's widow, Maxine Faulk (Ava Gardner). Maxine becomes interested in Shannon.
Another woman at the hotel is Hannah Jelkes (Deborah Kerr), a beautiful and chaste itinerant painter from Nantucket, who is traveling with her elderly poet grandfather (Cyril Delevanti). Hannah and her grandfather have run out of money, but Shannon convinces Maxine to let them have rooms. Over a long night, Shannon battles his weaknesses for both flesh and alcohol: Miss Fellowes' niece continues to make trouble for him, and he is "at the end of his rope," just like the iguana kept tied by Maxine's cabana boys. Shannon suffers a breakdown, the cabana boys truss him in a hammock, and Hannah ministers to him there with poppy-seed tea and frank spiritual counsel.
Hannah's grandfather delivers the final version of the poem he has been laboring to finish and dies. The characters try to resolve their confused lives with Shannon and Maxine deciding to run the hotel together. Hannah walks away from her last chance at love.
Alternative versions 
There are several shortened after-market versions of this film, cutting out the endless dialog between Burton (strapped into a hammock) and Kerr. Such extended static dialog scenes were typical of Hollywood films from the late '50s and early '60s when based on stage plays. In one version, Burton commits suicide by walking into and drowning himself in the ocean.
- Richard Burton: Reverend Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon
- Ava Gardner: Maxine Faulk, widowed owner of the beach hotel
- Deborah Kerr: Hannah Jelkes, wandering artist
- Sue Lyon: Charlotte Goodall, underage girl who tries to seduce Shannon
- James Ward: Hank Prosner, bus driver
- Grayson Hall: Judith Fellowes, Charlotte's chaperone
- Cyril Delevanti: Nonno, poet and Hannah's grandfather
|“||This is precisely what I meant. This is Acapulco 20 years ago.||”|
—Tennessee Williams, on Puerto Vallarta
In September 1962 Huston, Lyon, and Burton (accompanied by Elizabeth Taylor) arrived at Puerto Vallarta—a "remote little fishing village"—for principal photography, which lasted 72 days. Huston liked the area's fishing so much that he bought a $30,000 house "in a cottage colony eight miles outside town."
By March 1964, months before the film's release, gossip about the film's production was widespread. Huston received an Writers Guild of America award for advancing "the literature of the motion picture through the years." At the award dinner, Allan Sherman performed a song, to the tune of "Streets of Laredo", with lyrics that included, "They were down there to film The Night of the Iguana / With a star-studded cast and a technical crew. / They did things at night midst the flora and fauna / That no self-respecting iguana would do."
Time magazine said, "Huston and company put together a picture that excites the senses, persuades the mind, and even occasionally speaks to the spirit—one of the best movies ever made from a Tennessee Williams play."
Bosley Crowther wrote,
"Since difficulty of communication between individuals seems to be one of the sadder of human misfortunes that Tennessee Williams is writing about in his play, The Night of the Iguana, it is ironical that the film John Huston has made from it has difficulty in communicating, too. At least, it has difficulty in communicating precisely what it is that is so barren and poignant about the people it brings to a tourist hotel run by a sensual American woman on the west coast of Mexico. And because it does have difficulty—because it doesn't really make you see what is so helpless and hopeless about them—it fails to generate the sympathy and the personal compassion that might make their suffering meaningful."
Crowther was particularly critical of Burton's performance, calling him
"spectacularly gross, a figure of wild disarrangement, but without a shred of real sincerity. You see a pot-bellied scarecrow flapping erratically. And in his ridiculous early fumbling with the Lolitaish Sue Lyon (whose acting is painfully awkward), he is farcical when he isn't grotesque."
Of the film's four Oscar nominations, it won one, for Best Costume Design in a black-and-white film (Dorothy Jeakins). Also nominated were Grayson Hall (for Best Supporting Actress), Stephen B. Grimes (for Best Art Direction in a black-and-white film), and Gabriel Figueroa (for Best Black-and-white Cinematography). Ava Gardner was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA as best actress. 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2010)|
A hotel and resort complex, La Joya de Mismaloya, has been built at the bayfront of the village of Mismaloya; it maintains the film's old sets as restaurants and tourist attractions. A statue of John Huston was erected in Puerto Vallarta, where it still stands, because of his role in making the city a destination.
- Box Office Information for The Night of the Iguana. IMDb. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- "Movies: The Night of the Iguana (1964)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Alpert, Hollis (1986). Burton. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-13093-4.
- "Mexico: Everybody's Hideaway". Time. November 1, 1963. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
- "James Garner: You Ought to be in Pictures". Movieline. May 1, 1994. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "Imaginary People, Real Hearts". Time. July 17, 1964. Retrieved 2010-10-08. "In ten wild weeks at a sunny place for shady people on Mexico's spectacular west coast, Huston and company put together a picture that excites the senses, persuades the mind, and even occasionally speaks to the spirit—one of the best movies ever made from a Tennessee Williams play."
- "Hollywood: Your Place or Mine?". Time. March 20, 1964. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
- "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39.
- Crowther, Bosley (July 1, 1964). "'Night of the Iguana' Has World Premiere". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
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