Boom!

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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You may not recognize a movie by the name of “Boom,” a 1968 British drama directed by Joseph Losey. That’s because it’s actually a re-jiggering of a play by Tennessee Williams called “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Any More.”

The movie stars the then-husband-and-wife team of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. They were slightly miscast – for the original play was written for a much older woman and a much younger man.

In a 1964 Broadway production, the leads were better cast – Tallulah Bankhead and Tab Hunter. As a matter of fact, Tennessee Williams originally wrote “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Any More” with Tallulah Bankhead in mind.

The storyline gives us a dying woman named Flora “Sissy” Goforth. A six-times divorced millionaire, she’s staying in a large mansion on a Mediterranean island. A mysterious poet named Christopher Flanders appears on the island, engaging her in dialogue that is both allegorical and symbolic. His nickname is “Angelo Del Morte” (Angel of Death). Is he for real?

“Boom” is showing Monday night as part of this year’s Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration. Sponsored by the Key West Art & Historical Society along with its Tennessee Williams Museum, the Tropic is helping to celebrate the legendary author and playwright throughout March with a series of films based on his work.

The following Monday night, you can catch Paul Newman and Geraldine Page in “Sweet Bird of Youth.”

Although critics panned “Boom” when it first came out (Newsweek: “A pompous, pointless nightmare.” Saturday Review: “Outright junk.”) it remains filmmaker John Waters’s very favorite movie. A sometimes visitor to Key West, Waters describes the film as “beyond bad. It’s the other side of camp. It’s beautiful, atrocious, and it’s perfect. It’s a perfect movie, really, and I never tire of it.”

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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