Despite the passage of thirty years, this made-for-TV drama remains vivid in my memory. Anthony Hopkins played the mercurial poet Hugh Saunders, trying to preserve his art and his marriage against the temptations of alcohol and celebrity. The character and story were obviously inspired by the lives of Brendan Behan and Dylan Thomas, both of whom died young after achieving great success and sudden wealth in the United States.
Hopkins was at the absolute top of his young acting skills in this role, roaring through the dialogue as in the best of his work in the earlier 'Lion in Winter'. His performance was both intellectually and physically intimidating, but was matched by actress Billy Whitelaw in her scorching portrayal of Saunders' wife Jeanne. The always capable Susan Clark, Barry Morse, and Cyril Cusack were pitch-perfect in supporting roles.
"Poet Game" was one of a whole series of first-class television dramas created for CPB/PBS in the 70's that never seem to be broadcast now - like Richard Kiley's "Ceremony of Innocence" (1972) or Charles Durning's "Dancing Bear" (1977). Too bad, because the stories were timeless and the scripts and acting on a par with anything currently being done on cable TV (or big-screen movies).
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