Released in October of 1967, Reflections in a Golden Eye arrived in American theaters at a time when the Hays code that governed what could and couldn’t be seen on the big screen was months from being abolished. Directed by John Huston and produced by Ray Stark it is the only celluloid pairing of Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Based on a story by Carson McCuller’s short novel, Brando plays Major Penderton, who teaches courses on leadership at the local military post. A man of discipline, he’s tormented by homosexual desires. His wife Leonora (Elizabeth Taylor) is spirited, and lustful, is desperate for the kind of physical affection her husband is unable to provide.

Leonora is having an affair with next door neighbor Colonel Langdon (Brian Keith) whose wife Alison (Julie Harris), still traumatized over losing her baby three years earlier, spends most of her days in the company of the family’s effeminate Filipino “houseboy,” Anacleto (Zorro David). Major Penderton is distracted by his growing obsession with a taciturn Private L.G. Williams (Robert Forster in his film debut). Williams becomes obsessed too, with Leonora, who makes no secret of her attractive to the opposite sex, even stripping seductively before climbing the stairs.

The idea of Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor sharing the same screen seemed enticing, but their pairing here is a disappointment. As much as I like Brando, Montgomery Clift (who died of a heart attack before production began), would have been a better casting choice. Friends for years, not only did he and Taylor have a shared history and established chemistry, but the fact that he was a closeted homosexual would have added an interesting layer to his performance. As it is, Brando employs an odd accent (a mix of Southern and European?) that makes every word he utters hard to understand. Worse, the chemistry between Brando and Taylor or for that matter, Taylor and Brian Keith is negligible.

As progressive as this movie might have been for the time, a nude scene, swearing, the big problem is, nothing much happens. The movie is visually interesting, yes but having never read the novel, I hope it’s better than this movie.

The set offers two discs, each containing the film in either director John Huston’s preferred “golden hue” (desaturated color with a pinkish brown wash over the image) or the studio’s preferred Technicolor look. Both are framed at their Panavision theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and in 1080p. Both transfers are excellent. The image looks stunning throughout revealing a high level of detail. The regular color version offers vibrant hues. It’s wonderful that Warner has included the “golden hue” version, and that exhibits far more detail than the previous DVD release.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix offers excellent fidelity for a film more than half a century old. There are no age-related anomalies such as pops, hisses, flutters, or crackles. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise. Toshiro Mayuzumi’s decidedly offbeat score comes through comfortably.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Vintage Behind-The-Scenes-Footage (SD, 23:09) Silent black-and-white footage of the actors and the director at work on the set, and at rest. The footage is accompanied by music.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:43)