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DVD Review

DVD cover

Green Mansions (1959)


Starring: Anthony Perkins, Audrey Hepburn, Lee J Cobb and Sessue Hayakawa
Digital Classics
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: PG
Available 06 April 2009

Abel is a refugee from the political turmoil in Venezuela. In an effort to find gold, so that he can hire mercenaries to avenge his father’s murder, Abel gets lost in the jungle. Rescued from certain death he is sent further into the jungle by a tribe that wants him to confront an evil bird spirit, but instead of a spirit he discovers Rima. Soon Abel finds himself falling in love with Rima...

Green Mansions (1959 - 1 hr, 40 min, 17 sec) is pretty much a vanity project by actor, producer and director Mel Ferrer, who passed away last year (2008), for his then wife Hepburn. The film is based on the celebrated novel by William Henry Hudson and was adapted for the screen by Dorothy Kingsley.

The whole thing has a dreamy quality, even though most of it was obviously shot on a back lot, with some composite shots which look poor by today’s standards.

The biggest fault the film has is some of the most bizarre casting I’ve ever seen in a single film. Perkins fails to portray his character as particularly vengeful. He even at one point in the film strums on a guitar - not sure how that got there, he certainly didn’t have it on him - and sings a love song to Hepburn. Hepburn, lovely as she is, is no wood nymph, with perfect hair, makeup and her distinctly European accent. Lee J. Cobb, who plays Rima’s grandfather, Nuflo, takes the concept of being in a melodrama to absurd lengths, giving a particularly over the top performance. The oddest casting is that of Sessue Hayakawa, a good actor but here we are supposed to accept him as the tribal chief Runi, when he is so obviously Japanese.

The film does have a nice clean print, with a 2.0 audio track. The disc has no extras.

It’s the type of film that comes on during a slow Saturday, you may not turn it off but then you won’t remember it in a couple of days time. However, for fans of Hepburn, here is a rare opportunity to plug another hole in your collection.


Charles Packer

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