Comedians, The (1967): Glenville’s Political Drama, Starring Burton and Elizabeth Taylor

Peter Glenville produced and directed The Comedians, a tedious and pretentious political drama, based on the novel of the same name by Graham Greene, who also wrote the screenplay.

The stars were Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Ustinov, and Alec Guinness.
Paul Ford and Lillian Gish had supporting roles as a presidential candidate and wife, as did James Earl Jones as an island doctor.

Set in Haiti during the Papa Doc Duvalier regime, the picture was shot in Dahomey (Benin since 1975).

The film tells the story of a sardonic white hotel owner and his encroaching fatalism as he watches Haiti sink into barbarism and squalor.

The role played by Elizabeth Taylor was originally intended for Sophia Loren.[2]

The film’s tag line was: “They lie, they cheat, they destroy … they even try to love.”

This was the final film directed by Glenville, who had directed Burton in an award-winning production of Becket. Glenville previously directed the premier of Greene’s first play, The Living Room, at Wyndham’s Theatre in April 1953.

Cast
Richard Burton as Brown
Elizabeth Taylor as Martha Pineda
Alec Guinness as Major Jones
Peter Ustinov as Ambassador Pineda
Georg Stanford Brown as Henri Philipot
Roscoe Lee Browne as Petit Pierre
Paul Ford as Mr. Smith
Gloria Foster as Mrs. Philipot
Lillian Gish as Mrs. Smith
James Earl Jones as Dr. Magiot
Zakes Mokae as Michel
Douta Seck as Joseph
Raymond St. Jacques as Capt. Concasseur
Cicely Tyson as Marie Therese

 

TCM, March 25, 2020.