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Desire Under the Elms
Desire Under the Elms
Actors: Sophia Loren, Anthony Perkins, Burl Ives, Frank Overton, Pernell Roberts
Director: Delbert Mann
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Drama
NR     2004     1hr 51min

In DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS, Anna poses tough competition to Ephraim?s bitter sons from his previous marriages, who believe they, not their new stepmother, should inherit all his land. Things heat up when Anna and Ephraim?s ...  more »


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Actors: Sophia Loren, Anthony Perkins, Burl Ives, Frank Overton, Pernell Roberts
Director: Delbert Mann
Creators: Daniel L. Fapp, George Boemler, Don Hartman, Eugene O'Neill, Irwin Shaw
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Classics, Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/31/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 51min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 2/19/2011...
Based on the play by Eugene O'Neill, "Desire Under the Elms" concerns a triangle between a father, his son, and his new young wife. Both the son and the wife want the family farm, but the tough old man would prefer to take it with him when he dies (if he could). It's a story of greed and passion.

The actors in the three leads are excellent: Burl Ives as the father; Anthony Perkins as the son; and Sophia Loren in her debut film for Paramount. Newsweek says "This is a rarity worth seeing." I agree.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Dark but compelling!
krysia1 | Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey United States | 03/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The tape quality is excellent and the fact that's it's in black and white enhances the somber tones of the story and stark contrast of the characters. The highlight of the film is a fine (however brief) performance by a pre-Bonanza Pernell Roberts whose portrayal of a spirited brother lifts some of the oppression that runs throughtout this tale. I've watched this film more than once for it's cinematic beauty and the quality of acting...but this is not a love story, rather a story about love at it's darkest. If I were a fan of Eugene O'Neill I probably would have given this 5 stars."
So-so adaptation of O'Neill's play
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/18/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Burl Ives plays Ephraim Cabot a greedy miser of a man who has managed to estrange his sons Peter (Pernell Roberts), Simeon (Frank Overton) but most especially Eben (Anthony Perkins) who wears bitterness like an oversized suit. When Ephraim brings home a new, young step-mother for the boys and wife, Anna (Sophia Loren) causes rivalries to begin anew between the brothers, their father but most especially Anna. It seems Ephraim has made the decision to leave the farm Anna when he dies. Eben confronts Anna but their confrontation erupts into passion as the two sleep together.

Eugene O'Neill occupies the same place in American Literature as a playwright as, say, Sophocles did for the Greeks. While Sophocles told of great and heroic characters who fall from grace with the gods, O'Neill focuses on anyone from the average American to the celebrity (I suppose in our screwed up world that's what passes for a "heroic" figure now). O'Neill's best plays ("The Iceman Cometh" and "Long Day's Journey into Night") tend to focus on the everyman and his or her struggles with temptation and how they seek their redemption. While "Desire Under the Elms" isn't O'Neill's best work, it still resonates with a number of difficult and forbidden themes. It's O'Neill's version of "Oedipus" but with characters that for all their heroic qualities, are flawed and simple human beings.

That said this is a so-so film adaptation of O'Neill's play. The fault lies in making the film a "star" vehicle more than anything else. The script compromises the integrity of O'Neill's original play and the direction, although imaginative at times just doesn't bring the drama to life. Mann's opens up the play a bit but some of the sequences still have a static quality to them. The performances range from decent to so over-the-top that they add a campy quality to the film and bring out the soap opera elements of O'Neill's plot. This is definitely an O'Neill play that deserves a reinterpretation despite the fact that it's a fairly minor work in his canon.

Shot in Vistavision one of the earliest widescreen processes, the black and white images would probably have been a bit sharper and with better clarity if there was some sort of full scale restoration done on the film. As it is, "Desire" looks decent although some of the sequences look a bit muddy while other parts look a bit washed out. There's also quite a bit of analog blemishes. Given the age of the film, the black and white images look pretty decent. It's unlikely that Paramount gave the producer responsible for this film-to-DVD transfer the budget for the necessary restoration of this film. The sound is pretty decent although the frequency response isn't as good as it could be. Still, Elmer Bernstein's striking score comes across with good presence and the dialogue is fairly clear.
There are no extras included. There is no commentary track.

Although not a complete disaster, this adaptation of O'Neill's play leaves a lot to be desired. Basically a star vehicle for Sophia Loren and Anthony Perkins, the fine moody cinematography and director Delbert Mann's imaginative direction can't overcome a script that takes a piece meal approach to O'Neill's play.

Desire Under the Elms
Robert J. Moon | Atlanta, GA, Georgia United States | 10/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can remember seeing this film when I was a teenager and I never forgot it. I think it is one of Tony Perkins' best acting parts. This DVD is a sharp black and white copy and is first rate. The musical score and sound is perfect.

Robert Moon"