Shot in color by Aldo Tonti & Oswald Morris, printed in sepia, the film takes the title literally. It contains one of Brando’s most nuanced and passionate performances as a repressed homosexual army Major. Robert Forster, in his first film, plays the object of his desirous gaze, a Private with an affinity for horses (one he shares with the officer’s wife, whose room he worshipfully invades at night as she sleeps.)
Quite a film! Bizarre performances (Taylor, Brando), heavy symolism everywhere, a-tonal music, a golden tint etc. Hidden gazes, bars, whips, secrets, desperation, mirrors, naked horse-riding, thunderstorm finale - it's all there. It's up to Brian Keith to provide a tiny bit of normality.
Huston et al. enact interpersonal complications as bruising, bombastic melodrama; much of the film's entertainment value derives from watching these actors quiver and crack up like the exquisite hams they are. But even through the golden murk, we see what attracted Huston to McCuller's story: the way it examines loneliness and longing, exposing how we imbue them with romance by aestheticizing the real.
A colossal waste when you consider the talent involved. If you were to let a bunch of theater students gang rape Tennessee Williams, then lobotomize him before sitting him down in front the world's most shitty typewriter Reflections in a Golden Eye is what you'd end up with. Anyone who had anything to do with this movie should be ashamed of themselves.
John Huston directs this stylish and engrossing Southern gothic drama with excellent performances (though Elizabeth Taylor goes a bit over the top); superb and unique cinematography; and an extraordinary atmospheric score by Toshirô Mayuzumi. The film's biggest flaw is its slow pacing, it could have used more energy in a few places - but this is still a strange, memorable, and unjustly forgotten classic.