The Night of the Iguana

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Differences in film and play: "The Night of the Iguana"
May 13, 2006

John Houston carries a common theme throughout most of his movies, the theme of religion. The same holds true for his theatrical presentation of Tennessee Williams short play "The Night of the Iguana." The main character of the play, Reverend Shannon, is known to be a teacher of the word but this is not portrayed in the play even close to as much as it is in Houston's film. I will discuss three major differences between Williams play and the way it was interpreted onto the screen by Houston.

The first and most obvious difference between play and film is the opening scene. In the opening of the film the Reverend Shannon is preaching a typical Sunday sermon from the pulpit when he starts to deviate from his speech. The reverend begins to lash out at the churchgoers saying he's tired of preaching the holy word in the wrong manner and in an evil, preposterous, almost "devilish" way continues to yell and scream at the people listening to him until they all get up and begin shuffling out of the church. He then follows them out the door and onto the sidewalk still yelling and screaming at them until they all leave. The play on the other hand begins with the bus tour arriving at Maxine's hotel and the whole scenario in the church only comes through during a conversation between Hannah and Shannon.

I believe this is one example of Houston's inclusion of religion in his film. He is establishing that Shannon is a man of God, but one who is beginning to head in the opposite direction. This shows that Houston felt even though this was a small, almost empty part of the play it would be a big introduction and place setter for the rest of his film.

The second difference I noticed between the play and the film was the way that Maxine's husband Fred passed away. In the play Shannon is coming up the hill to Maxine's hotel and he is yelling Fred's name. Maxine informs Shannon that Fred is no...
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