Newman's movie of the Tennessee Williams play, about a family disintegrating in a gloomy, claustrophobic St Louis apartment during the depression, is uncompromising and at times unbearably poignant. The mother (Woodward) is a stifling combination of emotional blackmail and self-glorifying reverie; her crippled daughter Laura (Allen, a revelation here), is a timid, gentle creature, as fragile as the world of glass animals into which she retreats. When the long-awaited gentleman caller accidentally breaks both her favourite unicorn and her heart, she finally drifts away for good into her fantasies. Her brother Tom (Malkovich) is weak and aware of it, and his self-loathing testimony brackets the confined action. The acting is bruisingly true; the deep guilts of family are present throughout; everybody feels martyred. Newman trusts the words to conjure up the old crushed magnolia.
The Glass Menagerie
Cast and crew