- Lilith is Robert Rossen’s (All the King’s Men, The Hustler) last film. He would pass away in 1966.
- It features both Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg as beautiful, budding stars (each well under 30 years old here) and if you had to pick which one would go on to stardom after watching Lilith, the answer is easily Seberg.
- Lilith is set in a mental institution- a different kind than the one Sam Fuller featured in an expose style in 1963’s Shock Corridor.
Marvelous title design by Elinor Bunin
- Seberg’s Lilith is a captivating sort of predator- beauty and manipulation (if not alluding to her as a nymphomaniac). She lures just about everyone in the film in. Rossen accentuates this visually with the chain link fence throughout the film acting as a sort of cobweb. This is brilliant visual filmmaking. Early in the film Seberg’s Lilith is eyeing Beatty like a potential meal.
- Rossen uses dissolves throughout for his editing. There is one after Beatty’s ex sees him with Seberg on bikes together that seems to last forever.
Rossen seems obviously influenced by Antonioni here in the early 1960s– a fine frame here
- Beatty’s Vincent Bruce is a war veteran, he has lost his love, he is grieving for his mother.
- This is only Beatty’s fourth film overall- he has always been choosy about his roles and excellent at that portion of what it takes to be an actor (his role selection far outweighs his talent as an actor). He only acted (he was a great director as well) in 23 films overall (to date at least in 2021).
- It is 22-minutes in before Seberg says a word.
Repetition of the chain link cobweb visual metaphor as part of the formal pattern
- The single greatest shot in the film (and perhaps Rossen’s greatest overall) is Seberg in the water at the 44-minute mark.
- It is asking a lot from a suspension of disbelief standpoint that the institution would think it is a good idea to put two people as good-looking at Beatty and Seberg together for as much time as they do- haha.
- Rossen uses the chain link from Seberg’s room on Beatty’s head in a dissolve that lingers.
lingering dissolves as Rossen’s editing weapon of choice. Again, Seberg is superb—mercurial—she’s sort of playing a Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion-like character but with more dialogue. There is a very disturbing scene of her kissing and whispering to an extremely young boy.
- A handsome long shot from behind the two as they walk in the woods about to make love in the meadow.
- At the 76-minute mark in the woods, off the water,
- Future Bonnie and Clyde (1967) co-stars Warren Beatty and Gene Hackman have a scene together here. Hackman has not yet arrived as an accomplished actor (either has Beatty fully)—he’s testing out that southern sort of accent you’d hear again in Penn’s masterpiece.
- The internal performance is just too much for the 27-year old Beatty- you need Montgomery Clift here. Beatty is not bad here per se– there’s just the potential for a superior performance.
- At the 113-minute mark there is a magnificent frame with Kim Hunter on the left foreground, the doctor on the right foreground—and another character in the deep background center.
- “Help Me” freeze to end the film- strong. It makes you sort of question Beatty as an employee there or a patient in a Shutter Island sort of way.
- Highly Recommend- top 10 of the year quality film
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