The show began in 1956 broadcasting all live 90-minute plays, with only a sub-par kinescope film (film camera aimed at the live broadcast on the TV monitor) as an archive. The second year they began to film maybe every second or third episode (as a "made-for-TV-movie"), then in the last two years began videotaping many of the episodes. The tape technique was harder to spot because the broadcasts still appeared live, but there are at least partial tapes (of excellent, pristine, quality) in the CBS vaults of P90 episodes of "Days of Wine and Roses (1958)," "The Old Man (1958)," "Judgment At Nuremberg (1959)," "Alas, Babylon (1960)," and the final 'Playhouse 90' from 1960, "In The Prescence of Mine Enemies." Clips of these actual tapes were featured in the 2002 CBS special "50 Years of Television City in Hollywood.". See more »
the best of the best in the golden age of television
This was the jewel in the crown of the golden age of television, the fifties and early sixties. This show had the best actors, the best directors, and the best writers. Many of these were on kinescope and are available somewhere, in a vault somewhere, or happily for the rest of us, at the Museum of television and radio. Some of the shows I have seen are The Comedian, with Mickey Rooney as a beloved comedian, who is a vulture in real life (kind of a similar story to A Face in the Crowd). It is one of Rooney's best performances. There is also the beautiful Requiem for a Heavyweight, with wonderful performances by Jack Palance, Ed and Keenan Wynn, and Kim Hunter. It is probably the best known of these shows. Also there is Days of Wine and Roses, with shattering, brilliant work by Piper Laurie, Cliff Robertson, and especially Charles Bickford. It equally comparable to the film. And recently I have been able to see A Sound of Different Drummers with Diana Lynn and Sterling Hayden. It is a story about a future society where books are banned; book owners are killed. It is sort of similar to Farenheit 451; it is very good, with touching performances by both stars. The best one of all that I have seen is The Miracle Worker. I was so excited that a copy exists. It is equally comparable to the film and features an outstanding, Emmy nominated performance by Teresa Wright as Annie Sullavan. She should have gotten the Emmy, and been able to continue her role in the stage and film versions, all respects to the wonderful Anne Bancroft though! It is the best of her many fine fifties televsion performances and right up there with A Shadow of a Doubt and The Little Foxes in terms of her best performances of all time. Several of these shows are available on VHS, too bad they all aren't!
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