Very entertaining Southern gothic movie. Dean Martin and Geraldine Page dominate most of the scenes; but the more thoughtful Anna (Wendy Hiller) and innocent Yvette Mimieux’s Lily churn up the skeletons, err, the Toys in the Attic.
As has been pointed out by other reviewers, Page’s Carrie is very much in the Blanche DuBois mold. Annoying, with her incessant chatter, she can’t deal with any sort of change, fixated as she is on her brother Julian (Martin). Lily’s an unwelcome accessory when Julian comes back to the sisters’ New Orleans home.
Complicating things is Gene Tierney as Lily’s mom, and Nan Martin as Julian’s mistress. Lily ultimately blows the dust off the plot by telling Charlotte’s (Nan Martin’s) husband of Charlotte’s and Julian’s affair. Despite his anger at Lily for setting Charlotte and himself up for Charlotte’s husband’s revenge, Julian sheds his selfish lifestyle for Lily. He realizes that Carrie intends to smother him (maternally and incestuously).
That’s a snake-pit to navigate, but the plot unfolds clearly despite a relentless pace. Most of the drama unfolds in a day’s time. Dean Martin is great as a careless, superficial cad; his new-found wealth is apparently as transparent as his character. Mimieux is maybe a bit too gullible, even to the point of begging Julian’s mistress for “just another year” with him; as though marriage is a negotiable commodity.
Despite Lily’s naivety, it’s hard to see what she lacks in comparison to Charlotte. True, Charlotte represents easy money for the lazy Julian. But Lily’s mom supposedly paid him off as well. It might’ve been a little easier to swallow his attraction for Charlotte if her character had been played by a younger actress. Nothing wrong with Nan Martin’s performance, however.
Like Blanche DuBois, Carrie ends up isolated, her delusional world effectively destroyed. The difference is that Carrie’s siblings leave her, whereas Blanche is sent away by her sibling. The only relationship that’s not torn apart in Toys in the Attic is Lily’s and Julian’s; it changes too, but for the better.
Psychological dramas can fall flat without actors who can seemingly become their characters; Toys In the Attic gives us a cast full of convincing, even scary performances. They take turns nailing each other with great lines.
Not too many quibbles with this movie. Rewarding experience on many levels. 9/10.