American Playhouse: Season 1, Episode 9

The Fifth of July (9 Mar. 1982)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama
8.0
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Ken Talley is 32, strong, goodlooking and a Vietnam vet with both legs shot off seven years earlier. He is somewhat cynical. His lover Jed is bigger and stronger, a gardner, a good listener... See full summary »

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Title: The Fifth of July (09 Mar 1982)

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
...
Kenneth Talley Jr.
...
Jed Jenkins
...
Gwen Landis
Jonathan Hogan ...
John Landis
Joyce Reehling ...
June Talley (as Joyce Reehling Christopher)
Helen Stenborg ...
Aunt Sally Friedman
...
Shirley Talley
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Danton Stone ...
Weston 'Wes' Hurley
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Storyline

Ken Talley is 32, strong, goodlooking and a Vietnam vet with both legs shot off seven years earlier. He is somewhat cynical. His lover Jed is bigger and stronger, a gardner, a good listener. On Independence Day 1977 Ken's home in Lebanon Missouri is visted by the others. Much of their past relationships, pre- and post-Vietnam, must be pulled up and examined before any of them can decide their future. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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Comedy | Drama

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9 March 1982 (USA)  »

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The original Broadway production of "The Fifth of July" by Lanford Wilson opened at the New Apollo Theater on November 5, 1980, ran for 511 performances and was nominated for the 1981 Tony Award for the Best Play. Swoosie Kurtz (winner of the 1981 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play), Jeff Daniels, Jonathan Hogan, Danton Stone and Joyce Reehling reprise their roles in the filmed production. See more »

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User Reviews

 
great script, middling film
29 April 2009 | by (Lubbock, TX) – See all my reviews

"The Fifth of July" may be among the most satisfying stage scripts of the last three decades. For those of us who were young when the play's characters were young (in the Vietnam war era), it movingly touches on the idealism and disappointment of that time. It has a vein of sentimentality, but does that have to be a bad thing? Perhaps not. Even with its sentimental moments, the script is full of sharp, funny dialogue that is "theatrical" in the best sense. How well does that theatricality translate to film? With mixed success. This adaptation uses most of the original Broadway cast of the play. I saw the same cast on stage, and I remember really liking this TV film when it first came out. Now, seeing it again a couple of decades later, it strikes me as regrettably stagy. Swoozie Kurtz's flamboyant performance nabbed her a Tony on stage, but seems strident and one-dimensional on film. Likewise, Richard Thomas comes across as surprisingly mannered and overwrought for an actor who built most of his career in TV. He works too hard and ends up unconvincing. In contrast, Jeff Daniels (as Thomas's devoted but under-appreciated boyfriend) steals the movie with a subtle, natural performance. In general, the supporting players come off better than the leads, and it's fun to see a very young Cynthia Nixon. This is a competent introduction to a beautiful script, but it's still pretty much a film of a stage production. Like so many adaptations of this sort, it fails to convey the power of the live theatrical experience, and at the same time, it isn't a very good film as film. I couldn't help wondering how this would work if someone turned it into a "real" movie that emphasized cinematic values over stage values. I'd like to see someone try some day.


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