A Buried Tennessee Williams Screenplay, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond


Consider: If Tennessee Williams’s script for Joseph Losey’s 1968 turkey Boom! (an adaptation of his play The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore) saw the light of day, just how bad must a Williams screenplay unproduced for decades be? Actress Jodie Markell, directing her first feature after an earlier foray into Southern Gothic territory with her 1998 short of Eudora Welty’s Why I Live at the P.O., is not allergic to dust and mold, apparently. In 1920s Mississippi, Bryce Dallas Howard as unbalanced heiress Fisher Willow struggles to sustain a credible Dixie accent while delivering lines steeped in the excesses of bonkers belle-dom: “I’m not going to crack up again! I must be with people who do things.” She rents out Jimmy (Chris Evans, almost as catatonic as his character’s mother, locked up in the loony bin), the son of a worker at her father’s plantation, to escort her to Memphis parties, where she will be humiliated by weird twins but find life’s answers from bedridden, opium-addicted Ellen Burstyn. If Markell’s instincts for script exhumation are questionable, she’s the victim of even worse timing: Who thought releasing her film 10 days after Liv Ullmann and Cate Blanchett’s praised-to-the-high-heavens A Streetcar Named Desire closed was a good idea?