Mourning Becomes Electra (1947) – full review!

Mourning Becomes Electra (1947) – full review!

Academy Award winning screenwriter Dudley Nichols (The Informer (1935)) also produced four films and directed three this was the last time he did either; his previous effort in both capacities also featured Rosalind Russell in the title role Sister Kenny (1946). For both efforts the actress received Best Actress Oscar nominations this being her third of four (unrewarded) nominations for her career. Nichols also wrote the screenplay from the Eugene O’Neill play. In addition to Russell Michael Redgrave (whose character doesn’t appear until the drama’s second act one hour into the movie) received his only Academy recognition a Best Actor nomination.

The story is basically an updated version of the classic Greek tragedy of Agamemnon the commander who returned from Troy hungry for a renewed life with his spouse only to find that his wife has strayed with a younger man (that could be his own son). She poisons him and then (she and her lover) must suffer the wrath of her own son and daughter who are then haunted by guilt and their own demons (including near incestuous jealousy) for their vengeful act. In this case Raymond Massey plays Union General Ezra Mannon who’s returned home from the Civil War to his loving daughter Lavinia aka ‘Vinnie’ (Russell) the titled Electra with his injured son Orin (Redgrave). Shortly before he’s murdered Ezra learns that wife Christine (Katina Paxinou looking quite a bit younger and more attractive than she did in her Academy Award winning Best Supporting Actress stint as Pilar in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)) is in love with the son of a former Mannon family maid that he’d thrown out of the house for diddling his brother; Leo Genn plays Adam Brant. The drama plays out in three overwrought and overlong acts: The Homecoming The Hunted and The Haunted.

Also in the cast are Kirk Douglas (in his third film) as Peter Niles who courts Lavinia Nancy Coleman as his sister Hazel Niles who’s in love with Orin Henry Hull as the Mannon’s 40 year groundskeeper (that does what he’s told) Seth Beckwith Sara Allgood as a landlady and Thurston Hall as the family doctor named Blake. Additionally Elisabeth Risdon Erskine Sanford and Jimmy Conlin also appear briefly.

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