The original Broadway production of "The Iceman Cometh" by Eugene O'Neill opened at the Martin Beck Theater on October 9, 1946 and ran for 136 performances. The play had revivals in 1973/1974 and 1999. See more »
In act four during one of Hickey's recollections he says about coming home one day - "into her home which I kept so spotless and clean". The actual line should read - "into her home, where *she* kept everything so spotless and clean". See more »
Jason Robards' performance as Hickey in the original stage production of "The Iceman Cometh" sealed his reputation as one of the finest actors of the twentieth century and helped to secure O'Neill's as one of America's greatest playwrights. I was fortunate enough to see Robards in the mid-80's revival of the play on Broadway, and his advanced years seemed so relevant to his interpretation that I couldn't imagine what his Hickey might have been like a quarter of a century earlier. Thankfully, this recently released DVD of the 1960 version directed by Sidney Lumet for Public Television has preserved that performance for posterity, and it is truly an unforgettable one. John Frankenheimer's film version of the play is currently unavailable, but one looking for the best possible production need look no further than here.
Robards is matched by a cast that is equal to the challenge of sharing the stage with him. Broadway veterans Myron McCormick, Tom Pedi and James Broderick are magnificent as, respectively, Larry, Rocky and Willie. It is also a treat to see Julie Bovasso and Joan Copeland on hand as two of the bar's unforgettable tarts. Best of all, the young Robert Redford is a terrific Parritt. He looks, if anything, even more handsome than he would when he catapulted to stardom later in the decade, but the true surprise is how powerful his acting is. Parritt is arguably the most demanding role in the play - it left the two talented actors I saw attempt it on Broadway at sea - and Redford is just perfect, giving a riveting and multi-layered performance.
Credit must be given to director Sidney Lumet for filming this production so effectively. There is enough of a sense of live theatre about it to make it compare favorably to an actual live performance, and his selective camera work only enhances this feeling. Though television was still in a relatively primitive stage, the atmosphere in which these barflies do their best to deny their realities is vividly recreated.
This production should be seen by all who are fans of Twentieth Century Theatre, and is an absolute must for fans of Eugene O'Neill. One wonders if the powers that be at PBS had any idea of the gift they were passing down to subsequent generations. They earned whatever they ask for in their next pledge drive with this production of "The Iceman Cometh".
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