Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elephant Walk (1954) "La senda de los elefantes"



Director: William Dieterle
Elizabeth Taylor, Dana Andrews, Peter Finch, Abraham Sofaer, Abner Biberman, Noel Drayton, Rosalind Ivan, Barry Bernard, Philip Tonge, Edward Ashley
































I guess the moral of this tale is "be careful where you build your house". Certainly not on the side of a cliff or--better still--not where the elephants like to roam, especially when they're thirsty. ELIZABETH TAYLOR, in all her youthful splendor, was a last minute replacement for VIVIEN LEIGH, who bowed out due to severe mental illness that overtook her shortly after she read the script. In fact, there are a few glimpses of Miss Leigh remaining in certain long shots if you care to look. But Elizabeth settles down in a role that does nothing for her acting career but does allow her to be drop dead gorgeous throughout. She has to feign impatience with a husband (PETER FINCH, who was, by the way, having an affair with Leigh), who ignores her and the uneasiness that any young bride would have if she finds herself in a strangely situated house--a huge tea plantation in Ceylon, India. She copes bravely with her worries and falls in love with a neighbor (DANA ANDREWS, in one of his less impressive performances). Andrews seems to be sleep-walking through his role. Finally, after a lot of dull talk, a cholera epidemic breaks out and nobody is minding the elephants. This is where they take their famous "walk" and practically destroy everything in their path. Of course, even before their rampage, the script is a mess and the audience must have been stifling a few yawns while the melodrama builds to a ferocious climax. It's all highly improbable with a sort of "Jane Eyre in India" feeling that pervades the eerie plot. But if you want to see Taylor in her prime, this is for you. Vivien probably never regretted being unable to finish the film.