Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Carradine, and Rod Steiger star in Merchant Ivory Productions’ extraordinary 1991 film directed by the British actor Simon Callow. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, based on the novella by Carson McCullers and the play by Edward Albee, is both a grotesque black comedy and a prime slice of Southern Gothic set in a poverty-stricken rural community dominated by the curious, androgynous character of Miss Amelia. A forceful personality with a mysterious past, she runs the town’s only cafe and controls the locals through the careful distribution of her own secretly brewed “hooch.” —The Criterion Collection
Simon Phillip Hugh Callow, CBE (born 15 June 1949) is an English actor, musician, writer and theatre director.
This is the only movie I've ever seen that makes the United States as eerily lush and mysterious in its natural formation as I know it. It took an outsider like Callow (not only a Brit, but this is his only direction credit) but even for the few problems I encountered, I was consistently drawn to just how gorgeous and weird the country looks. This is a unique version of the South, unrivaled as far as I'm concerned.
A strange and wonderful Southern Gothic. A masterful performance by Vanessa Redgrave - one of her absolute best - with Keith Carradine and particularly Cork Hubbart strong supporting. Director Simon Callow balances the material so it steers clear of outright melodrama, infusing it with a palpable eerie atmosphere of the deep South. A masterpiece.