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Long Day's Journey Into Night [DVD]
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The world s foremost actor, Laurence Olivier, and one of America s greatest playwrights, Eugene O Neill, are brought together in this acclaimed stage production, by the National Theatre Company, of O Neill s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece. Long Day s Journey into Night gives an autobiographical account of Eugene O Neill s claustrophobic and explosive home life, fused by a drug-addicted mother, a father who wallows in drink after realising he is no longer a famous actor and an older brother who is an emotionally unstable misfit. Laurence Olivier won an Emmy Award and a BAFTA nomination for his performance in this production, which also marks one of his rare appearances on television.
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Top Customer Reviews
Olivier and Constance Cummings that was taped for television back
in the early 1970s. Olivier won an Emmy for his performance but
for me the highlight of the production is the magnificent portrayal
of Mary Tyrone by Constance Cummings. She received raves for her
performance when it was performed on stage and I am delighted this production was preserved and now available on dvd. She captures
the essence of the morphine-addicted mother haunted by the past.
This version is a bit shorter and shorter O'Neill is often
preferable. There have been some wonderful Mary Tyrones--Katharine Hepburn, Jessica Lange and most recently,
Vanessa Redgrave, but Cummings is rught up there with the best.
This quote from the "Independent" obituary of Constance Cummings fits the TV version as well - the cuts are made smoothly and do not diminish the power of the play. There is a great advantage in having close-ups of the actors in an intimate, family drama of this kind.
The play had not been too successful on the English stage before this production, where attention to detail extends to having actors who sound convincingly American, and of Irish origin at that. Also, the mood is not constantly oppressive and gloomy: the opening scenes are light-hearted, at least on the surface. Olivier has always been a master at finding humour among tragedy: one example is in the great scene where he regrets his wasted talent and does a parody of his own Othello. At one point in this scene, he climbs up onto a table to unscrew the lightbulbs in the chandelier, teetering perilously on the edge before stepping backwards down again. This brought the house down in the stage version: my one regret is that here we do not see his feet! This occurs in the middle of a drunken scene which is all the more convincing when one knows that Olivier never drank before or during a performance.Read more ›
Constance Cummings just breaks your heart with her fluttering hands and slight stammer. The young Ronald Pickup is a revelation. I love all his work but it's so nice not to see him playing yet another crusty middle-aged, middle-class type. So good-looking too! Denis Quilley is superb in an unattractive role as the "bad" brother. I loved the bit where he launches into a Shakespeare role, mimicking Olivier's early style, and earns a rebuking glare from Sir Larry/James Tyrone. And as for Sir Larry - heartbreakingly funny, if that makes sense.
This is a wonderful production of a great play about family dynamics. How love and hate, admiration and contempt are intermingled in our closest relationships. To quote The Hoosiers, "We love the ones that we betray".
The only "faults" that I can find are 1) some lines have been omitted from the original text, and 2) I found Maureen Lipman's role as the maid a bit "stage-Oirish". I know that it's only a small role and provides some comic relief but really... I just cringed whenever she was present. Instead of being an all-seeing, all-knowing Greek Chorus, she flapped around like a refugee from an Oscar Wilde or Moliere comedy.
A moving yet funny play. It is so engrossing that the 161 minutes just zip by! I loved the way that the characters sat and observed each other - a play within a play. I watched this after enduring that farce of a film, "Dancing at Lughnasa". The latter was like a Disney cartoon in comparison.
Thank you, Eugene for sharing your pain and for giving us An American Beauty.
A great read but better seen on the stage - I read this after seeing the recent West End Production with David Suchet and Laurie Metcalfe. It is the best play I have ever watched.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good DVD I am a fan of the Late Laurence Olivier I have been since the 1960's. When he introduced me to Shakespeare through his film of Richard 111. Read morePublished on 28 April 2013 by Mr. J. A. Heath