- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- EDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
USA, 1947


Directed by: Dudley Nichols. Screenplay: Dudley Nichols, from the play by Eugene O’Neill. Director of Photography: George Barnes. Film Editors: Roland Gross, Chandler House. Art Director: Albert D’Agostino. Music: Richard Hageman. Cast: Rosalind Russell (Lavinia Mannon), Michael Redgrave (Orin Mannon), Raymond Massey (Gen. Ezra Mannon), Katina Paxinou (Christine Mannon), Leo Genn (Capt. Adam Brant), Kirk Douglas (Capt. Peter Niles), Nancy Allgood (Hazel Niles), Henry Hull (Seth Beckwith), Sara Allgood (Landlady), Thurston Hall (Dr. Blake), Elizabeth Risdon (Mrs. Hills), Walter Baldwin (Amos Ames). Production: R.K.O.-Radio. Length: 160 min. Colour.

Christine Mannon has long hated her husband, Ezra; during his absence at the war she has taken a lover, Adam Brant; her daughter Lavinia (who herself loves Brant) discovers this, and it crystallises the long hatred between the two women. On Ezra’s return, Christine murders him; Lavinia discovers this too, and persuades her brother Orin that they must take revenge. Orin’s adoration of his mother is difficult to shake, but Lavinia persists and goads him to murder Brant. As a result, Christine commits suicide. Orin is wracked by remorse; an intense relationship, equally compounded of love and hate, develops with his sister. Their personal lives (Orin has a fiance, Lavinia a fianc) are completely distorted by remembrance, guilt and recrimination. Orin takes his life, and Lavinia makes herself a recluse in the desolate, shuttered family mansion, where she will live alone for life.

Macabre curio
O’Neil’s play (1931), decked up as a "trilogy" with three separate acts entitled Homecoming, The Hunted, and The Haunted, has been very literally filmed, with (mercifully) some cutting, little externalization (arrivals and departures, Lavinia’s discovery of her mother’s liaison with Brant), some beautifully designed sets and refined photography. The play, alas, and the performances and the treatment, are all quite terrible. In 1931, no doubt, the injection of elements of Greek mythology into modern drama was still both fashionable and relatively novel; even so, it is difficult to see why at the time such crude and pretentious claptrap should have been taken so seriously. Doom, guilt, blood, murder, incest, hate, vengeance, fate, death, evil-all the dark abstractions occur again and again, used and over-used with such ludicrous emphasis that the words "Cold Comfort Farm" come to one’s lips within fifteen minutes. Everyone has a fixation: daughter on father, son on mother, father on daughter, mother on son; and finally, when mother and father are both dead, brother on sister. Granted that Dudley Nichols believed in the play, one is still surprised at his invertebrate handling; the direction of players is stiff, the use of camera utterly lacking in drama, and the editing devoid of any dynamic quality. The play is just "transferred" on to celluloid.
A stellar cast fumbles with helpless and sometimes touching ineptitude. Rosalind Russell, as Electra-Lavinia, tries long and hard, but is simply unequal to acting on this scale and reminds one nostalgically at times of her superb Mrs. Fowler-Prowler in The Women. Katina Paxinou is unexpectedly dull and artificial as Clytemnestra-Christine: Raymond Massey’s Agamemnon-Ezra is stagey and unconvinced: Leo Genn’s Brant has the accents and demeanour of a regular pre-war diner at the Berkeley Hotel. Redgrave’s Orestes-Orin is the best of a bad lot, an exterior performance not without mannerisms, but at least with the kind of suited to this material. As innocent fiance and fianc, Nancy Coleman and Kirk Douglas have little to do except exclaim, with sympathetic bewilderment, at the innumerable irregularities of the Mannon household.
Richard Hageman’s music accompanies much of the action with a choral rendering of "O Shenandoah," thus adding the final touch to this macabre curio.

G.L.
"Monthly Film Bulletin", Vol. 19, No. 221, June 1952