American Playhouse: Season 6, Episode 1

All My Sons (19 Jan. 1987)

TV Episode  |  Comedy, Drama
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 153 users  
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Two families, related by friendship and love, face up to the consequences of greed and avarice in the post-war years. Love and death play equal roles in determining the outcome of events.

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Title: All My Sons (19 Jan 1987)

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Cast

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Layne Coleman ...
Mary Long ...
Lydia Lubley
Marlow Vella ...
Burt
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Two families, related by friendship and love, face up to the consequences of greed and avarice in the post-war years. Love and death play equal roles in determining the outcome of events.

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Comedy | Drama

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19 January 1987 (USA)  »

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Trivia

The original Broadway production of "All My Sons" opened at the Coronet Theater in New York on January 29, 1947, ran for 328 performances and won the 1947 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play for the author Arthur Miller. His original script was used as the basis for the screen play for the movie version. See more »

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Version of ITV Play of the Week: All My Sons (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

 
First tier preservation of second tier Miller
9 October 2009 | by (Bolton, Ct./Jersey City, NJ; United States) – See all my reviews

This fascinating video of Arthur Miller's first Tony winner ("Best Play" and "Best Director" 1948) ALL MY SONS, is just about perfectly cast with a solid line-up of Broadway stars, and even more interesting viewed in tandem with the fine May 1948 Hollywood movie of the play.

Some of the timeliness of the morally byzantine piece about honesty and family loyalty in an immediate post-war setting has faded with the years: the father was convicted, with his partner, of shipping defective aircraft parts leading to the death of dozens of pilots but later - apparently - exonerated, his own pilot son is missing in action presumed killed, his wife in deep denial and his younger son looking to marry the girlfriend of his late brother, the daughter of his father's still imprisoned partner. Yet Miller's dialogue and feeling for his characters trying to find their way back to some kind of normalcy under Jack O'Brien's sensitive direction still hits all the right emotional notes.

Miller would dig deeper and find more universal truths in his second hit and great contribution to American dramatic literature, 1949's DEATH OF A SALESMAN, but the disintegration of Joe Keller's world (the father) remains just as affecting as the audience is drawn to ask what they would have done in the place of any of the characters.

James Whitmore's Joe is, as noted, a fascinating contrast to the originals of Ed Begley on stage or Edward G. Robinson on screen. He plays the role with just as much nervous subtext (beautifully matched by Michael Learned as his wife - who knows more than she will admit), but Whitmore is a lighter, seemingly younger actor, and the audience may find it easier to identify and sympathize closely with him as the play starts - making the contrast as darker layers are revealed all the starker.

The young Aiden Quinn's surviving son (his second major TV role after the lead in LONG TIME COMPANION and a featured part in the big screen's DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN) is certainly as well matched with Joan Allen as the girlfriend (also early in her career - like Zeljko Ivanek as her brother, George. The following year she would be the break-out lead in Broadway's BURN THIS; he had already had the lead in Neil Simon's BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS). Far more than the sturdy Burt Lancaster in the '48 movie, Quinn lets the audience closer to the tortured son of parents in crisis with crises of his own.

If the play (Tony Award notwithstanding) is second tier Miller in its ovelayering of issues, this preservation is absolutely first tier. Issued on VHS but too long out of print, it should be made available on DVD for every library and university in the country. It's close to required viewing for any serious student of American theatrical history.


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