Gene Hackman’s debut. Warren Beatty plays a returning veteran who hires on at a palatial mental institution. There he falls for the titular Lilith, a manipulative patient played by Jean Seberg. Hackman has a small, but memorable role as the smarmy husband of Beatty’s former flame.
Talent abounds on both sides of the camera, but the result proves inscrutable. We get multiple shots of Beatty, lips pursed, looking pensive, but no insight into his thoughts or feelings. There’s no effort to make Beatty look anything less than a movie star, rendering his presence incongruous. Opposite him, Seberg convinces as a delusional, manic persona, but we’re left at a loss to explain what Beatty sees in her. The last straw, for me, was seeing Beatty jousting wearing sunglasses. Too cool for school.
Hackman’s performance proved the lone authentic note. His sleazy gregariousness communicates volumes in just a few minutes.