The RiverRun International Film Festival and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art have teamed up for the next “RiverRun Retro” event, a special screening of John Huston’s provocative, award-winning 1964 drama The Night of the Iguana, on June 23 at SECCA in Winston-Sale
Based on Tennessee Williams’ Tony-nominated Broadway drama, the film stars Richard Burton as T. Lawrence Shannon, a disillusioned, defrocked ex-clergyman who confronts his past in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he now works as a tour guide. Ava Gardner plays Maxine Faulk, the saucy owner of a rundown jungle hotel – and an old acquaintance of Shannon’s.
A tale of desire, temptation, retribution and redemption, The Night of the Iguana boasts Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon, Grayson Hall and Cyril Delevanti in the supporting cast. Like so many Tennessee Williams works, the film was considered controversial at the time of its release, which certainly didn’t hurt at the box-office. It also earned four Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Hall), Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (black-and-white), Best Cinematography (black-and-white) and Best Costume Design (black-and-white), winning for the latter.
The Directors Guild of America nominated Huston for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and the Writers Guild of America nominated Huston and Anthony Veiller for their screenplay. The Night of the Iguana also received five Golden Globe nominations: Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Director, Best Actress (Gardner), Best Supporting Actress (Hall) and Best Supporting Actor (Delevanti), and Gardner won Best Actress at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
The Night of the Iguana also put Puerto Vallarta on the map as a tourist destination. Huston so loved the location he purchased a home nearby, and a statue of the filmmaker was erected in his honor. Such was the frenzy surrounding the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor romance (following their tempestuous affair during the making of Cleopatra) that the paparazzi soon descended on Puerto Vallarta during production. Although initially angered by such unwanted media attention, following their marriage Burton and Taylor also lived for a time in Puerto Vallarta.
Following the screening, there will be an in-depth discussion regarding the film moderated by RiverRun’s executive director Rob Davis, with special guests Lynell Seabold (executive director) and Matthew McCarthy (executive assistant) of the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield. They will discuss the career of Gardner, North Carolina’s “First Lady of Film,” and her work in The Night of the Iguana. The permanent Ava Gardner Museum opened its doors in the fall of 2000, and draws approximately 12,000 visitors from around the world each year. The museum’s official website is http://www.avagardner.org/.
There will also be a post-screening reception featuring light hors d’oeuvres from Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe, craft beer from Hoots Beer Company and wine from McRitchie Winery.
This is just the latest in RiverRun’s ongoing series of “RiverRun Retro” events, which are scheduled periodically throughout the year. The 20th annual festival is scheduled to take place April 19 to 29, 2018.
Want to go …?
The RiverRun Retro screening of The Night of the Iguana will take place 7:30 p.m. June 23 at SECCA, 750 Marguerite Drive, Winston-Salem and doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students with valid I.D. For advance tickets or more information, call 336.724.1502 or visit the official RiverRun website: http://riverrunfilm.com/.