ZANDY’S BRIDE (aka: FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE)
(director: Jan Troell; from the novel The Stranger by Lillian Bos Ross/Marc Norman; cinematographer: Jordan Cronenweth; editor: Gordon Scott; music: Fred Karlin; cast: Gene Hackman (Zandy Allan), Liv Yllmann (Hannah Lund), Eileen Heckart (Ma Allan), Frank Cady (Pa Allan), Sam Bottoms (Mel Allan), Joe Santos (Frank Gallo), Susan Tyrell (Maria Cordova), Harry Dean Stanton (Songer); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Harvey Matofsky; Warner Brothers; 1974)
“Tepid Pioneer Romance Film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Swedish director Jan Troell (“Hamsun”/”The Emigrants”) helms this tepid pioneer romance film set in the Old West of the 1870s. Marc Norman bases his spare screenplay on the 1942 novel, The Stranger, by Lillian Bos Ross. It sets a grim mood, while its location visuals are beautifully photographed. Despite the fine performances and stunning scenery shots, it’s an unpleasant melodrama that is jejune even when uplifting in the end. Liv Ullman is Hannah Lund, the mail-order bride of Big Sur farmer Zandy Allan (Gene Hackman).. She searches for companionship in the marriage, but is put off by her stranger hubby’s belligerence. Zandy views his wife as another of his property assets and shamelessly tells her that he can by law do with her whatever he wants. The relationship remains a bitter one. The outside world is harsh. The ranch is plagued by cattle rustlers. a bear attack and loneliness. How the couple learn to adjust to their life on the frontier is what it’s all about. It’s a dour off-beat Western. On TV it was renamed For Better, For Worse.
REVIEWED ON 9/25/2016 GRADE: C+