Cinema: M?‚??nagerie ?‚?ß Trois

Tennessee Williams has always made three demands: On himself, to give poetic lie to Nietzsche's dictum that tragedy is dead. On his audiences, to see through his melodramatics to the philosophical skeleton. On his adapters, to preserve the illumination as well as the heat of his intense personal vision.

On all counts, the Last of the Mobile Hot-Shots fails. The Seven Descents of Myrtle, on which it is based, was one of Williams' most unprepossessing works. Audiences found it difficult—or impossible—to sit through, and it had...