Trivia

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Re: Trivia

Postby Heksagon » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:42 am

Reza wrote:The March version is on YouTube.


So are the Cobb and Hoffman versions.

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Re: Trivia

Postby Reza » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:10 am

Big Magilla wrote:You can still find copies of the Fredric March version of Death of a Salesman if you look hard enough. The version available on Netflix is the Dustin Hoffman version which is available for purchase on Amazon ($7 cheaper at $23 for the Blu-ray than the DVD). The Lee J. Cobb version is getting tougher to find these days.


The March version is on YouTube.

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Re: Trivia

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:26 pm

I recently had a conversation with someone who had seen one of the Broadway revivals of The Glass Menagerie. He couldn't remember who played Amanda, but vividly recalled Amanda Plummer as Laura. I found that rather shocking considering that this was the version with Jessica Tandy as Amanda who received all the revival's rave reviews.

Here's Frank Rich's12/3/1983 review:

THE new Broadway revival of ''The Glass Menagerie'' leaves much to be desired, but that fact doesn't diminish the largest aspect of the event. The spirits of Tennessee Williams and Jessica Tandy have been reunited for the first time in a generation, and their partnership, now as in legend, is one of the most fundamental in the history of the American theater. Perhaps some theatergoers will want to hold out for a better ''Glass Menagerie'' than the one at the O'Neill Theater, and no doubt it will eventually arrive. But you pass up Miss Tandy's Amanda Wingfield only at your own peril: You may turn around one day to discover that, in Mr. Williams's phrase, the past has turned into everlasting regret.
Along with ''Long Day's Journey Into Night,'' ''The Glass Menagerie'' is in a class apart among autobiographical American plays. ''The play is memory,'' says Tom, Mr. Williams's alter ego and narrator - and so it is. What lifts this work above so many other family living-room dramas is its author's insistence on refracting the past through a complex and vulnerable sensibility: A remembered reality is rearranged to express the music, both sweet and discordant, of a young poet's soul. It is Miss Tandy's ability to ascend to that same realm - to give us not just the simple truth, but ''truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion'' - that makes her performance a piece of music that lingers in our minds as persistently as Amanda lingered in the author's.

The simple truth of Amanda is plain enough. A woman who has long since been deserted by both her husband and her genteel Southern youth, she lives in shabby circumstances in Depression-era St. Louis; she fights incessantly for her children's happiness even as she nearly smothers them to death. But if that were the sum of Amanda, Mr. Williams wouldn't have written about her. Within the exasperating nag, there is still the coquettish plantation belle. Within the woman battered on all sides by the painfulness of existence, there is still the indomitable fighter who clings to her faith in ''the superior things of the mind and the spirit.''

Miss Tandy, trim and in blond curls, wraps all these Amandas together in a portrayal of prismatic translucence. One second she is hectoring her son for his selfishness in a raspy Southern drawl, then she is all maternal good will, quietly tightening a muffler around Tom's neck. A second after that, she is a calculating flirt, cajoling the young man into finding his sister, Laura, a gentleman caller. When Tom takes the bait, she skips buoyantly about her drab apartment, clapping her hands in childish delight.

As always with this actress, delicate precision is all. When Amanda tells her daughter to aspire to ''charm'' and then remembers that charm was also her husband's fatal attribute, the word descends from a cheery high note to a death rattle in the same sentence. When Amanda trudges home defeated by the discovery that Laura has abandoned business college, Miss Tandy enters in a moth-eaten cloth coat, looking aged and weary; then, by the mere dignity with which she removes her gloves, she reasserts the pride and determination of a woman who perseveres in the face of any defeat. Later on, while reminiscing about her marriage to her son, the actress clasps her arms to her chest on the line, ''There are so many things in my heart I cannot describe to you.'' Her eyes tell us those indescribable things, and one of them is the unmistakable red-hot fever of sexual passion.
Miss Tandy brings one other strong asset to this role - beauty. When she puts on her yellow-linen cotillion dress to greet Laura's gentleman caller, there is nothing campy or self- parodistic about the mother's retreat to her vanished past. Sashaying about the room with a bouquet of jonquils in her hand, the actress just turns back the clock as magically as she did in ''Foxfire.'' Yet when disappointment sets in afterward, the same woman in the same dress withers like a leaf: the glow is gone, and we're left with a ghost floating through the lurid red shadows cast by the Paradise dance hall next door.

Unlike so many Amandas, Miss Tandy doesn't refrain from making the audience despise her - and that's how it must be, if we're to believe that she will ultimately drive her son, like her husband, out the door forever. This Amanda is tough, and even her most comic badgerings leave a bitter aftertaste. John Dexter, the British director of this production, follows the same severe tack in the rest of the revival - even to the point of using some of the distancing, slide-projected title cards that Mr. Williams calls for in the published text (but are rarely seen in performance).
Though the notion of fighting against a maudlin ''Glass Menagerie'' is laudable, the execution has gone astray. The exemplary designer Ming Cho Lee has created a set that appropriately serves the abstraction of memory rather than kitchen-sink reality, but it is too big, too contemporary and too icy in its austere high- tech design. Even Andy Phillips's evocative, pointillist lighting can't always prevent it from combatting the play's intimacy.

The supporting cast, though populated by accomplished actors, is frequently playing at a routine level. Though she works hard, Amanda Plummer is miscast as Laura: as you'd expect, she captures the pathological shyness of a young woman who lives in a fantasy world of glass figurines, but a gleaming smile alone can't convey the inner radiance that is waiting to be unlocked; we just don't believe that she would haunt her brother for the rest of his life. Bruce Davison's Tom has a Williamsesque accent that comes (in the narration) and goes (in the scenes proper) - and the performance is in and out too. A cagey opponent for Miss Tandy in their fights, the actor gives an exaggeratedly actorish delineation of a dreamy poet battling for salvation.

John Heard comes off much better as the Gentleman Caller: He mines the low-key generosity of the man, thereby keeping total disaster at bay in his long scene with the almost resolutely ungiving Miss Plummer. But his flights of Dale Carnegie-style self- boosterism are accompanied by artificial and anachronistic gestures - as if he and Mr. Dexter were guessing blindly at the manners of a bygone American prototype.

That the play is often absorbing and affecting, if imbalanced, in spite of these considerable drawbacks is a testament to the enduring pull of the writing and to the flame of Miss Tandy. The wrong notes are there to be heard, but so is the voice of our cherished, departed poet, pouring directly out of one of the few incandescent theater artists he has left behind.
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Re: Trivia

Postby dws1982 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:02 pm

And in college I saw the Katherine Hepburn version, which didn't do much for me.

I think that Hepburn really torpedoes that film. Waterston and Moriarty are both very good, but Hepburn, from my memory, plays Amanda as a sort of long-lost cousin to Blanche DuBois, which is a fundamentally misguided way to play the role, as far as I'm concerned. Sally Field didn't play it that way, which was one thing that made her performance so great.

If you can ever find it, there's a version of Long Day's Journey Into Night from 1996 that's very good. It was made for Canadian TV, with the cast of an acclaimed production, and everyone is really excellent. I saw it on YouTube, but it was taken down some time ago and I haven't even been able to find as much as a single clip of it since then.

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Re: Trivia

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:16 pm

You can still find copies of the Fredric March version of Death of a Salesman if you look hard enough. The version available on Netflix is the Dustin Hoffman version which is available for purchase on Amazon ($7 cheaper at $23 for the Blu-ray than the DVD). The Lee J. Cobb version is getting tougher to find these days.
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Re: Trivia

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:56 pm

Since I never offered my own opinion when asking the question, I should chime in.

I lean a bit toward Virginia Woolf, but kind of in okri's way: the film opened when I was just becoming a mayor film (and Oscar) fan, so it's always felt contemporary to me in a way none of the others do. By the time I got to Streetcar, it was 20 years old, and the film's always looked to me a bit like an old TV kinescope -- preserving two great performances, but otherwise looking a bit dated.

A few years back, Sonic pointed me to the 1951 Death of a Salesman on YouTube. I can't swear it's still there -- I've discovered recently that films tend to disappear from YouTube all the time, so you really need to watch whenever you first find things there. It's a very uninspired rendering, but likely the play's theatrical flashback structure makes it a poor candidate for film adaptation to begin with. If you can possibly dig up a copy of the CBS TV version from 1966 -- with Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock -- that's the best you can do.

Like most everyone, I love The Glass Menagerie, but it's always struck me as a far simpler play than the other four I mention. It's the kind of play you can imagine high schools doing perfectly adequate productions of -- whereas teenagers would be way out of their depth attempting to understand Streetcar, Journey or Virginia Woolf. That's why I don't rate the play quite as high.

The 1950 Hollywood version of Menagerie, despite having a perfectly decent cast, is abominable -- I recognized that when I saw it in my teen years. Gertrude Lawrence was of course known for legendary stage performances, but she's just ghastly here: you can no more fathom her reputation from this film than you can the Lunts' from The Guardsman.

I saw the TV version with Shirley Booth/Hal Holbrook/Barbara Loden/Pat Hingle around the same time, and liked it pretty well. (TCM ran it a few months back.) And in college I saw the Katherine Hepburn version, which didn't do much for me. Never did see the Newman-directed Joanne Woodward version.

The Lumet film of Long Day's Journey at least preserves the great play, but it's flat cinema, and resorts to melodrama at times -- I'll always recall a zoom-in shot on Hepburn's trembling hands as hokey in the extreme.

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Re: Trivia

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:39 pm

I would say Streetcar, with Virginia Woolf nearly its equal. For me, these are the two film adaptations of American plays that are genuinely special. Part of this is due to the lightning-in-a-bottle quality of the performances (the clash of acting styles between Leigh and Brando, the real-life charge of the Burton/Taylor relationship). But the films' directors (and their cinematographers) deserve enormous credit as well -- although neither movie takes place in all that many locations, they don't feel stagey or claustrophobic, and both have some pretty striking visual images in their storytelling. These films are interesting to me as MOVIES, not just as adaptations of great stage pieces.

(I would add that Angels in America also merits inclusion in that very rare group of screen versions of stage plays, although of course that was an HBO miniseries, not a theatrical movie.)

I don't think as highly of Lumet's version of Long Day's Journey Into Night. I'm not knocking it -- I think it contains Katharine Hepburn's greatest performance, and there's obvious merit in preserving such a stellar play on screen. But it, for me, is a much more typical theatrical transfer -- well-acted, respectable, but not really exciting as a piece of filmmaking beyond that.

And even regardless of what one's individual opinion of Kazan, Nichols, and Lumet are, Streetcar and Virginia Woolf are widely viewed as among the tippity-top achievements of their directors' careers (give or take On the Waterfront and The Graduate). I think many people could come up with a list of top five favorite Lumet films without Long Day's Journey.

Incidentally, I saw the current LA production of Long Day's Journey a couple weeks ago, with Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek. I thought both actors were excellent. This production is actually being live streamed by Broadway HD this evening, and will be available for ten days on the Broadway HD website, for anyone who might be interested.

I think very highly of The Glass Menagerie as a play, though I haven't seen the Woodward-Malkovich film version since high school, so I don't know that I'd be able to properly evaluate it in this context. (I've never seen the earlier film.)

I have never seen the film version of Death of a Salesman.

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Re: Trivia

Postby Okri » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:07 pm

For whatever reason, I've always grouped The Glass Menagerie with All My Sons in the canon in terms of respect, even if that's wildly wrong.

I'd probably call Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf has the best of the big four movie adaptations, but that's more down to the place each piece holds in my development as a theatre/film nerd.

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Re: Trivia

Postby dws1982 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:01 pm

A shame that Sally Field's The Glass Menagerie revival is apparently not good; In 2004 she headlined a production at the Kennedy Center that was just excellent, top to bottom, especially and including her performance. I felt like this one was questionable as soon as I saw that Joe Mantello, who's in his mid-50's, was playing Tom. I mean, I get that it's a memory piece, so "age" as far as that character is concerned is somewhat relative, but it felt like a bridge too far for me. And then I saw that it's a "stripped down" production, and then I saw an image of Field wearing what looked like a hot-pink princess dress. Sounds pretty dire.

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Re: Trivia

Postby OscarGuy » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:07 am

I recently read two reviews of revivals of titles you mentioned. West End has a revival going now of Virginia Woolf starring Imelda Staunton that was very well praised and, largely thanks to Staunton's performance. Then there's a Broadway revival of Glass Menagerie that wasn't well received with light praise going to Sally Field, but it should be noted that in the review of Glass Menagerie, they were effusive of praise for the original material, so it sounds like it's incredibly well respected. This is only one review, mind you, but I doubt the Variety critic is alone in this regard.
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Re: Trivia

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:43 am

I assume we're talking about Broadway revivals, and not regional productions, in which case The Glass Menagerie should certainly be considered. It has been revived six times since its original production, that's one more than both Death of a Salesman, Long Day's Journey Into Night and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and three more than Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. It's also the only one of the group to have been made into a theatrical film more than once, although all the others except for Woolf have been dramatized for TV more than once. Of course, one could argue that the reason it's revived so much is that they're still trying to get it right.

A Streetcar Named Desire, though, holds the record for Broadway revivals - 8 to date. It also boasts the two most acclaimed TV revivals of the bunch - one with Ann-Margret, and one with Jessica Lange, despite the fact that the 1951 version really can't be beat. I'd also rate Cat and Journey above Woolf, but all four way above Salesman and both versions of Menagerie.
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Re: Trivia

Postby dws1982 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:38 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I think we could agree that Death of A Salesman made for the worst movie of the four. But which of the remaining three would you choose as the best?

I'd say A Streetcar Named Desire easily, even if it does water down some things from the original play. Mainly because I feel like Kazan "got" cinema as a medium more than Nichols or Lumet did.

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Re: Trivia

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:38 pm

I assume many of you have noted TCM is covering Richard Burton as star of the month. While I was looking at some of the movies on the schedule last night, something occurred to me:

The Taylor/Burton team made four movies during the 1963-66 period (the pair's zenith as tabloid fodde). Despite only one of those movies --Virginia Woolf -- being critically praised (putting it mildly: the rest were viewed as dreck), all of them won at least one Oscar (Cleopatra cinematography, art direction, costumes and visual effects; The VIPs supporting actress; The Sandpiper song; Virginia Woolf of course the two actress awards plus all the black-and-white visuals).

During the same period, Burton made three other films without her, and two of them won Oscars -- Becket adapted screenplay, Night of the Iguana b&w costumes). The only film either was associated with during this period that won no Oscars was The Spy Who Came in From the Cold -- which I'd rank at worst second among the group in quality.

All tolled, their films in this period accounted for 13 wins and 42 nominations. All while they were being treated in the press the way Bennifer was a decade or so back. I don't know anyone has ever dominated the Hollywood scene quite as fully as they did in that era.

And, since I bring up Virginia Woolf, a question I'd put to people:

My argument would be that, by the esteem in which they're held, and the frequency with which they're revived, the most prominent plays of mid-twentieth century America -- maybe of all twentieth century America -- would have to be A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Long Day's Journey Into Night and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (A friend has tried to argue The Glass Menagerie onto that list, but I don't think it's held in quite as high regard.)

I think we could agree that Death of A Salesman made for the worst movie of the four. But which of the remaining three would you choose as the best?

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Re: Trivia

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:13 am

Not surprisingly, Steven Spielberg seems to be the only director to get his films a nomination in every category (except the now-defunct Song Score).
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Re: Trivia

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:41 am

FilmFan720 wrote:Fred Zinnemann is also in the general ballpark.

Zinnemann's an interesting one, because he covers all three music categories: song and original score for High Noon, and adaptation score for Oklahoma! But he never got (as it was then called) art direction/set decoration, visual effects, or -- despite five prominent nominees, including two NY Critics' winners -- lead actress.


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