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Reflections in a Golden Eye
Directed by John Huston
Produced by John Huston
Ray Stark
Written by Gladys Hill
Chapman Mortimer
Starring Marlon Brando
Elizabeth Taylor
Brian Keith
Cinematography Aldo Tonti
Editing by Russell Lloyd
Distributed by Warner Bros./Seven Arts Productions
Release date(s) 13 October 1967
Running time 108 min

Reflections in a Golden Eye is a 1967 film directed by John Huston based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Carson McCullers that deals with the theme of repressed homosexuality. The film starred Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Brian Keith and Julie Harris.

It is a tale of six central characters, their failures, obsessions and darkest desires. Set in a military camp, it tells the story of Captain Weldon Penderton and his wife Leonora. Other central characters are Major Morris Langdon and his sick wife Alison, the Langdons' houseboy Anacleto and a mysterious soldier, Private Williams.

The film was to have starred Montgomery Clift, but he died on July 23, 1966 of a heart attack before cinematography commenced on the film. The role subsequently went to Brando, after Lee Marvin had turned it down.[1]


Plot summary

The story begins at an Army base in the 1940s. Capt. Penderton assigns Pvt. Williams to a private house call instead of his usual duty, which is maintaining the stables. Meanwhile you are introduced to Capt. Penderton's wife, Leonora, who is about to go horseback riding with Maj. Langdon. From the first scene with Leonora the viewer is aware of her extramarital affair with Langdon, as well as her strong bond with her horse, Firebird. Also a point made in the film is Williams's strong bond with all the horses in the stable.

Leonora and Penderton have an argument that same night which Williams witnesses through a window of their home, which develops into Williams spying on them from outside at first, then breaking into the house and watching Leonora sleep at night. As the nights continue Williams starts to sift through her feminine things, and caresses her lingerie.

Penderton takes Leonora's horse and rides into the woods, but he falls off and is dragged a distance by the horse. He then beats the horse. Pvt. Williams while naked comes to the horse and brings him back to the stable to tend the horse's wounds. Penderton starts to follow Williams around the camp. Upon finding out about her horse, Leonora interrupts her own party and repeatedly strikes her husband in the face with her riding crop.

Alison Langdon, the wife of Maj. Langdon is recovering from having sliced off her nipples with a pair of pruning shears, the apparent result of depression following the death of her newborn child. Alison's only bond is with her extremely effeminate Filipino houseboy. Alison being very aware of her husband's adulterous behavior decides to divorce him, but is then forced into an asylum by her husband as she tries to leave him. Her husband tells Leonora and Penderton that Alison was going insane, but she was not. Then Penderton is informed that Alison had a heart attack, but the truth being she killed herself.

One night Penderton looks at his window to find Williams outside his house. He realizes Williams is about to break in, and thinks that Williams is coming to see him, but instead watches Williams enter his wife's room. He then enters his wife's room and shoots Williams.

Apocalypse Now Tie-In

Still shots of Major Penderton would later be used by the producers of Apocalypse Now as part of Colonel Walter Kurtz's service record, to show a younger version of Kurtz. In many ways, Kurtz and Penderton are similar since Kurtz was stated to be a leading tactician in his youth and Penderton is shown in the beginning of the film teaching a class on military tactics. Both characters also deal with personal problems and both appear to be mentally unstable.

Film cast


Reflections in a Golden Eye opened to largely negative reviews in 1967. Part of the dislike for the movie stemmed from the performances of Brando and Taylor, who, by this time, landed bad films. Taylor stopped getting good roles after she married Richard Burton and this film began her descent into bad films. Brando would run into trouble, too. He landed box office bombs that failed, including this one. The biggest complant on this movie was that Brando's character was not strongly fixed or etched, leading audiences to question the nature of the Major and his intentions, none of which were made clear. As the 60's ended, Brando would be burdened by bad films which made the studio executives think he was not worth putting in any film.

External links


  1. ^ Parish, James Robert; Mank, Gregory W.; Stanke, Don E. (1978), The Hollywood Beauties, New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House Publishers, p. 343, ISBN 0-87000-412-3 


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