Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with her faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past. Her son plans escape; her daughter withdraws into a dream world. When a "... See full summary »
Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with her faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past. Her son plans escape; her daughter withdraws into a dream world. When a "gentleman caller" appears, things move to crisis point. Written by
This was of course done forty years ago, and expectations were a bit different, but Anthony Harvey also directed Hepburn in the Lion in Winter a few years before and that turned out pretty well other than a some British overly stage actorish speeches.
Tom's opening address to the audience is cut, although his concluding one was not.
In closeups the kids all look like they are a good forty. The actors were all their early thirties actually. The actors in all Broadway productions including the current one were around the same age, but Quinto for one who is Tom right now, even in closeups on Charlie Rose, looks more like mid twenties which makes more sense. If Laura is really 32, she has been nursing a wild crush on Jim for 15 years. And like I said, she looks 40ish. The situation in the play just makes no sense in any stretch of the imagination with 35 or 40 year old children, unless everyone is indeed certifiable Miss Havershams. Besides, although not set up that way without the opening monologue, it's all a dream world memory, not people's current (or future) age.
Sam Waterston and Michael Moriarty do pretty decent jobs as Tom and Jim otherwise. There is no hint however in Waterston (stand in for Tennessee) about how he's maybe spinning tales about what he's actually up to a lot of nights. You don't get the idea that he's maybe gay or at least making stuff up on the fly.
In the script: Amanda is worried that Laura is going to be a spinster? She's already a spinster. And has been for some years. Speaking of Laura, she's a totally sheltered emotionally crippled homebody who wears full professionally applied makeup at all times, including eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, and blush. And Joanna Miles doesn't show much of the emotional fragility and vulnerability that is necessary for Laura, except once in a while doing something odd the director told her to do. Or as a lot of people have pointed out, even ever seem to limp.
The big problem, as others have said in various ways, is Hepburn. Also a decade or two too old. She was in Lion as well, but it worked anyway. Early in the play she is going on about Laura being ready for tonight's gentleman callers. Has this been going on every night for fifteen or twenty years with zero callers? Yikes. Even a year or two after high school, and she is living in a real fantasy world. Which she is.
Amanda is necessarily kind of delusional, even while she is at the same time nuts and bolts very much working in the real world. Hepburn just does not live in or create a fantasy world. New Englandish quavery cracked speed talking does not represent that aspect of Amanda, no matter how fast she talks. The Southern way is of course to speak slowly and musically and establish that aura of perhaps imaginary refined gentility. She is totally committed to her character as always, but it's just all wrong. Amanda is just not something she can do, or maybe could do at that point, or was not directed to do. She did play the Madwoman of Chaillot a few years before, and I think that character was brilliantly delusional.
The NY and Brooklyn public libraries only have this one and not any other versions on DVD, although I just saw the Boston/Broadway one on stage. They don't have the 1987 one with Joanne Woodward and it's only on VHS besides. PBS ought to pull a BBC and do modern TV productions of it, and all Tennesse Williams plays while they are at it. OK, I guess they never do anything like that. They should. And other great American plays also, instead of leaving it to the Beeb to do all the all British all the time dramas.
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