Peter Bogdanovich Bags on Jose Quintero


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

July 21, 1960, Vol. V, No. 39

Did Jose Quintero Botch It?

By Peter Bogdanovich

I know it is becoming very fashionable these days to dislike the writings of Tennessee Williams, but I haven’t been won over yet; as a matter of fact, the only play of his on display here at the moment, “Camino Real,” is my favorite of his works – on paper, that is; I have yet to see a really satisfactory performance…

Those curious enough to find out had the opportunity to read the printed text, and they were probably most surprised by the clarity of the play on paper. After having seen Jose Quintero’s current off-Broadway revival, I can only assume he was not one of those people.

While Kazan imposed his own violence on the script [in a 1953 production], making it stunning but stupifying, Quintero reduces it to long-winded tedium, which, considering the electricity and beauty of the writing, is quite a feat. He really should get an award or something for the most expert job of making one of our most original plays look like a small-town drama club’s year-end attempt at profundity…

I must say I was a little surprised at Mr. Quintero’s display of utter incompetence – he has a fairly good record of past achievement both on Broadway and off – but he seems to have been content here to just get the drama on as fast as possible, and the result is slipshod, amateurish and dull, lacking style or any evident understanding. Whatever faults there are in this production, no one but Quintero can be held responsible: all available talent in New York was his for the choosing…

A complete list of the inadequacies and misinterpretations in this depressing revival would mean going through the drama virtually line by line. But the saddest aspect lies in the fact that, since the play has now been represented, it will probably be a lot more than seven years before we’ll be able to see it again. Following Williams’ quixotic credo, I can only hope that sometime, somewhere, the violets in “Camino Real” will finally break through the rocks.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]