Most film aficionados admire the fidelity of Lumet's film of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Days Journey into Night," but few are even aware of his now largely forgotten version of Arthur Miller's hothouse drama, "A View from the Bridge," also from '62.
Frankly, it also slipped my mind until I read of England's recent Young Vic production, with Mark Strong in his Olivier Award-winning delineation of the conflicted Italian longshoreman Eddie Carbone. (Strong, left, is known largely as one of Great Britain's premiere character actors but he is actually Italian himself, born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia.)
And there might be something else going with Eddie.
Carol Lawrence, fresh from the stage production of "West Side Story," made her film debut under Lumet's direction and, to the best of my knowledge, Catherine remains her only big-screen role. She tested for the film of WSS but, of course, that role went to Natalie Wood.
She's a lovely presence here and Michel Kelber's stark black-&-white cinematography seems to love her pale, soft skin and regal cheekbones.
He interferes not only by reporting Rodolpho and his brother Marco (Raymond Pellegrin, very good) to the immigration department, but by also accusing Rodolpho of being a homosexual. The film's big scene - a cause célèbre at the time - has a desperate Eddie planting a big, wet kiss on Rodolpho to prove his point about the young man's sexuality. By this point, "A View from the Bridge" has gone haywire. I mean, is Eddie still lusting for Catherine or is he now really interesed in Rodolpho?
On stage, "A View from the Bridge" was not a popular success. The original one-act version, directed by Martin Ritt and starring Van Heflin and Eileen Heckart, ran for only 148 performances in 1955. A year later, a revised, two-act version premiered in England.
Despite its short run, theater critics liked it. But movie critics were decidely more divided in 1962, with Dwight MacDonald praising it and Pauline Kael accusing it of being a lame, would-be Greek tragedy.
Distributed in America by Continental Releasing, Sidney Lumet's "A View from the Bridge" is now virtually impossible to see.
A truly lost film.
In the meantime, the Young Vic production is coming to Broadway this fall, beginning previews on October 21st and opening November 12th at the Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street, New York, NY 10036.
Sorel's tentative relationship with Lawrence incites a repressed, jealous and ultimately explosive Vallone.