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 »
I have gotten to see a few more of these shows and they are very versatile. I have seen some less known ones than Requiem for a Heavyweight, Days of Wine and Roses, and Miracle Worker. One of these is the very first in this series, Forbidden Area, a cold war drama starring Charlton Heston, in a tv role when he was a huge movie star. It also features Tab Hunter, Vincent Price, Victor Jory, and acting wonderfully as always, CHarles Bickford and Diana Lynn. It is an interesting look at the Joint Chiefs of staff in the government, while also being an interesting cold war spy story. Highly recommended!! Also there is the tv version, 20 years before the movie, of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon, with Jack Palance in another great Playhouse 90 role. Also in small roles, Peter Lorre at the end of his career and the beautiful Lee Remick at the beginning of hers. Also I got to see (at the Museum of tv and radio in NY)a live video tape version of The Great Gatsby, with Robert Ryan, a little old for the role but very good,also Rod Taylor in a good performance, and Jeanne Crain cast completely against type as Daisy, an interesting performance of hers. To top it off, there is the delightful Claudette Colbert and Paul Henreid comedy, One Coat of White, which is a spoof of aging in America, in laws, America in the 1950's, and modern art. Colbert is sooo good, it makes one regret that, then as always, films cut actresses careers too short as they get over 50. Fortunately, Colbert was in a lot of great tv productions in the 1950's (The Guardian, The Royal Family, Blithe Spirit, and Bells of St. Marys) and several of these still exist. It is really amazing how many of the great stars continued their work in great tv roles, which are less known today, but if you get to see them are highly impressive.
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