Sunday, September 15, 2019

Zandy's Bride

Another of the stars to get a day in this year's Summer Under the Stars was Liv Ullmann. One of her movies that I hadn't blogged about before is Zandy's Bride, so I recorded that to watch.

Ullmann plays the bride, a woman named Hannah. She's a Swedish immigrant in Minnesota sometime in the mid-to-late 19th century (I don't think an exact date is given, although I'd guess it's before the completion of the trans-continental railroad in 1869) who is going to become the mail-order bride of Zandy Allen (Gene Hackman). Zandy lives in a remote part of the Big Sur area of California, working a small plot and raising a small herd of California. He doesn't want a bride so much as he wants a second person to work the place and sons to help him in future years.

So when Hannah gets to California, there's no love, just a professional relationship. Indeed, Zandy is disappointed at first to learn that Hannah is past 30. Hannah wants to be respected as a woman and a wife, but Zandy isn't ready to do that just yet, treating Hannah rather badly. Zandy has even had another girlfriend in Maria (Susan Tyrrell), and might be willing to keep up his relationship with her. Zandy's mother (Eileen Heckart), however, understands Hannah and understands how much less than a man Zandy is being.

Zandy is selfish enough to buy a bunch of cattle and then let them trample all over Hannah's garden. But when she finally gets pregnant he begins to change and warm up to her a bit, something that's seen even more when he goes to San Francisco to buy provisions.

There's really not much going on in Zandy's Bride, and that makes it a bit hard of a movie to review. It was directed by Jan Troell, who had worked with Ullmann in The Emigrants and The New Land, and in some ways Zandy's Bride feels as though it could have been a continuation of those two films. It's got a languorous pace that works here because the movie doesn't overstay its welcome. Hackman seems like someone you'd think would be out of place in a western, but he does well.

Zandy's Bride is more of a character study than a movie with a fully fleshed-out plot, and if you know that going in I think you'll like it. It's available on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive collection.

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