Great Performances

Our Town (1989)

TV Episode  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music
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This classic American play, performed on an almost-bare stage, is about the mundane but rather pleasant lives of the Gibbs family, the Webb family, and their neighbors in Grover's Corners, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Atticus Brady ...
John Griesemer ...
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Lydia Kelly ...
Shane Culkin ...
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Bill Alton ...
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Steven Goldstein ...
Belligerent man
Jeff Weiss ...
Marcell Rosenblatt ...
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Storyline

This classic American play, performed on an almost-bare stage, is about the mundane but rather pleasant lives of the Gibbs family, the Webb family, and their neighbors in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, early in the 20th century. Act 1 presents an ordinary day in the life of the town. Act 2 carries the story forward with the courtship and marriage of George Gibbs and Emily Webb. Act 3 makes everything that has gone before seem pointless, but at the same time, ironically, it validates the earlier scenes. Emily has died while giving birth to her second child. During and after her funeral, she converses with other dead persons in the cemetery. She then gets permission to return briefly to life but finds it's not what she thought it would be. It goes too fast, and people don't have time to look at one another. "This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying." That's how the Stage Manager, an all-knowing character who serves as the ... Written by Wayne 119

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1989 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Shown within "Great Performances". See more »

Quotes

Emily: Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?
Stage Manager: No. Saints and poets, maybe--they do some.
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Connections

Referenced in Monster in a Box (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

Uneven but generally good adaptation
6 April 2004 | by (chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

Penelope Ann Miller is without a doubt the best Emily recorded .. and that is against some pretty heavy competition. Eric Stolz is a little shaky in the beginning; he doesn't play the juvenile George as well as the adolescent George, but it is not an easy part to play. Spalding Gray has his moments as the Stage Manager, but the part should really be played a little more sympathetically -- this is our guide through the play and the town and we should feel an affinity for him. He is too distant and stiff for the part. The underplaying, for a change, of Simon Stimson is a relief and an excellent choice; instead of angry and bitter, he is sad and hopeless -- one feels a bit more sympathetic toward him. The biggest miscalculation in the film is the portrayal of Dr. Gibbs. Wilder did not intend for Dr. Gibbs to be portrayed as small-minded and controlling, and stated as much. Just because Mrs. Gibbs would like to see more of the world does not mean she is a trapped, manipulated housewife. But playing Dr. Gibbs as a man ready to flare up into a temper changes the whole outlook of the play. If people were that cruel and small-minded, why would Emily want to return? (I realize we are talking about George's parents, not Emily's, but it is all part of the overall portrayal of the town.) I am looking for a perfect rendition of the play, and this is not it. (Neither, by the way, is the much-celebrated Paul Newman version, which inexplicably drops entire speeches and comments that are quite important to the play's theme.)


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