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The Three Sisters (1966)

 -  Drama
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In a small Russian town at the turn of the century, three sisters (Olga, Irina, and Masha) and their brother Andrei live but dream daily of their return to their former home in Moscow, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Gerald Hiken ...
David Paulsen ...
Albert Paulsen ...
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John Harkins ...
Salem Ludwig ...
Tamara Daykarhanova ...
William Paul Burns ...
(as Bill Burns)
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Storyline

In a small Russian town at the turn of the century, three sisters (Olga, Irina, and Masha) and their brother Andrei live but dream daily of their return to their former home in Moscow, where life is charming and stimulating meaningful. But for now they exist in a malaise of dissatisfaction. Soldiers from the local military post provide them some companionship and society, but nothing can suffice to replace Moscow in their hopes. Andrei marries a provincial girl, Natasha, and begins to settle into a life of much less meaning than he had hoped. Natasha begins to run the family her way. Masha, though married, yearns for the sophisticated life and begins a dalliance with Vershinin, an army officer with a sick and suicidal wife. Even Irina, the freshest, most optimistic of the sisters, begins to waver in her dreams until, finally, tragedy strikes. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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James Tolkan's movie debut. See more »

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Version of BBC Play of the Month: The Three Sisters (1970) See more »

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Turn Down The Volume on Your TV
15 August 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This taped version of the Actor's Studio Broadway production of Chekhov's play is a valuable record of an interesting, though variable performance. However, most of the actors project their voices as if they were still in the theater, so you'll need a good remote handy while watching.

This film features most of the original Broadway cast, with the exception of Sandy Dennis as Irina (originally played by Shirley Knight) and Shelley Winters as Natasha (originally played by Barbara Baxley). As both Knight and Baxley got the least good notices for their performances on stage, it's probably no surprise they aren't here.

Given the Actors Studio penchant for exposing one's inner workings over period accuracy, some of the actors seem too contemporary in their manner to be 100% believable as turn-of-the-century middle-class Russians. McCarthy, Loggia, Winters (who's too old for Natasha anyway, and gives her standard shrew performance) and Dennis (whose signature vocal and physical mannerisms are too much in evidence) are particularly lacking in this regard.

Tamara Daykarhanova, who worked at the Moscow Arts Theater, is certainly the most authentically Russian of the cast as the old servant Anfisa.

Kim Stanley is best of the rest of the cast - her Masha is captivating, if a tad too unsympathetic. Geraldine Page is a good Olga, and Gerald Hiken is a fine Andrei, down to a very convincing folk dancer. I also liked James Olson's Baron - when he wasn't speaking too loudly - and Luther Adler's Doctor.

As an overall performance, I do prefer Olivier's version, but this one will be interesting for theater buffs to get an alternative take on the play, and for the good pieces of acting. Certainly Kim Stanley made so few films that it's worth checking out anything she did.


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