In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Cal is frustrated at ... See full summary »
Despite the current description, this live TV drama from the late '50s is not in color, although it does include a color introduction by Richard Thomas, who played a bit part as one of Nora's kids.
There are also interviews with Robards, Plummer, Harris, and director Schaefer that are a bit more candid than one usually expects. For instance, Plummer and Robards got so hammered the night before the broadcast that they both showed up late for the dress rehearsal. Plummer even adds that he vaguely remembers being with a girl he'd picked up, but had probably been unable to "perform" with her.
Meanwhile, Robards and Harris can't help smirking a bit about Schaefer, who would regularly fall asleep in a wheelchair midway through rehearsals. He didn't *need* the wheelchair -- he simply didn't like walking!
In any case, the whole group came up with a first rate, streamlined version of the play. Harris is believably superficial and dishonest early on, and doesn't overplay her final act epiphany. Robards, who may well still have been drunk, has no trouble appearing "under the weather" but is also believably low-key in his hushed admissions of love.
Plummer is a bit too smooth, perhaps, as Torvald, the sometimes smug, sometimes insecure husband. Honestly, I kept thinking, "He's far too charismatic and attractive to play a moralizing, stick-in-the-mud banker."
Best of all is Hume Cronyn. As with everyone in this production, he's obviously (and wisely) been directed to steer clear of melodramatics. And even though, on paper, he's the least sympathetic character (a blackmailer), in performance he's the most understandable and convincing.
In all, this is better than the more familiar, easily available versions from the '70s (with Claire Bloom and Jane Fonda). Worth seeing if you can find it.
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