It's a sharp drop from Tara to Falconhurst. For all that's shown of the interior, two-thirds of this Southern mansion might be boarded up and collecting dust, although the central staircase serves just as well to snuff out an unborn child if the expectant mother descends it head over heels. The grounds have grown frightfully shaggy, as though the gardener has perhaps been laid up for three months with a hangover. The massuh and his moody son Hammond, or Hamlet, or Ham-a-lot, both drag around crippled legs as brands of their degeneracy. And Richard Kline's arty photography cloaks the environs in strange, unwholesome mists -- alternately black, gold, green, white. For its screen version, Kyle Onstott's "big, bold bestseller" has been thinned out to the extent that every remaining scene, without relief, has one or more lurid revelations to make about life, love, and Jacobean tragedy on a Louisiana slave-breeding plantation. Director Richard Fleischer and his cast play the thing with an unquestioning fidelity which, they hope, will shield them from all responsibility for the goings-on. James Mason, Perry King, Susan George, and Ken Norton. (1975) — Duncan Shepherd
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