As The Sandpiper gets slated by almost every critic and TV listing, just scraping one star if it's lucky, I wanted to see, again, if I could prove them all wrong.
For a start, Burton and Taylor, whose chemistry has ignited some of the most incendiary scenes on film, simply look as if they're actually on holiday. There is often no connection, no relation to each other and often they just stand/sit around looking rather bored. And, believe me, even for a bloke, I certainly wasn't expecting action and adventure but try as I might, I cannot get much pleasure from this story and Taylor always going on about her son, Danny. Danny, who we almost never see and has gotten himself in SO much trouble to have been snatched from Taylor and put into care. What's he done? Burned down the local library? Drowned a litter of kittens? No, nothing, so far as we can tell.
If I fell into a category of the populace where I could relate to how she feels then I'm sure I'd get more out of it. I guess that I'm simply not in the target audience but I'd like to appreciate it more.
Indeed, it takes some special scenery indeed to steal the limelight from this Golden Couple, but it often does. Yes, the cinematography is gorgeous and sumptuous, with sunsets and waves crashing on rocks and sandy shores, but that alone cannot make up for a film that is lacking in so many key areas.
Charles Bronson makes an early appearance but seems awkwardly out of place and Eva Marie Saint as Burton's wife makes no real impact. Burton, as the Episcopalian priest who runs the school Danny is sent to, never rings true as he tries to get to know and finally seduce the artist Taylor. As a de-frocked preacher in his earlier moody black & white 'Night of the Iguana', he is excellent because he is really rebelling and charismatic at that; here he as much charisma as a ruptured balloon.
Yes, I give The Sandpiper my time as it features the best voice in cinema history and the English Rose who stole a million hearts and became a Hollywood queen. But, I fear, all those critics may well be speaking the truth...