Under the Volcano

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A strange, hallucinatory adaptation of the Malcolm Lowry novel of the same name, John Huston's bleak drama is set during the Mexican Day of the Dead ceremony in 1939. Albert Finney stars as Geoffrey Firmin, the booze-besotted former British consul to Cuernevarca, who has cut himself off from his loved ones, the better to drink himself to death while surrounded by all manner of skull-and-skeleton decorations. At the urging of his wife Yvonne (Jacqueline Bisset), his half-brother Hugh (Anthony Andrews) goes on a heart of darkness search for his missing sibling. Novelist Lowry was himself a suicidal alcoholic, who poured every drop of his embittered philosophy into the Firmin character. If any director could bring Lowry's difficult novel to life, it was Huston, whose own record for drunken self-destruction is the source of legend. (Huston was actually the seventh director to tackle the novel, which had originally been optioned in 1957 by actor Zachary Scott.) Artists contributing to the fascinating Under the Volcano include the brilliant Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, screenwriter Guy Gallo, composer Alex North, and director Emilio Fernandez, cast in a significant cameo as a bartender.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


  • Albert Finney
  • Jacqueline Bisset
  • Anthony Andrews
  • Ignacio López Tarso
  • Katy Jurado
  • James Villiers
  • Dawson Bray
  • Carlos Riquelme
  • Jim McCarthy
  • José René Ruiz

Did You Know?


  • John Huston initially wanted to cast Richard Burton as the British consul. Huston and Burton had had a great success with a previous movie about an alcoholic set in Mexico, The Night of the Iguana (1964). Much to his regret, Burton had to decline the offer, as he was appearing in a touring production of Noël Coward's "Private Lives" with Elizabeth Taylor.
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  • The story takes place in 1939, but the car driven by James Villiers that almost hits Albert Finney as he is lying in the road is an MG-TF, which was manufactured between 1953 and 1956.
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    • Geoffrey Firmin: Hell is my natural habitat.
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