Judith Anderson Giving Perhaps The Finest Performance Ever Recorded For Television
Judith Anderson is at the peak of her powers in this television adaption of her greatest stage triumph, MEDEA. Ms. Anderson created a sensation on Broadway in 1948 with Robinson Jeffers' adaption of Euripides legendary Greek tragedy, winning one of the first Tony awards. How she failed to win an Emmy for this broadcast is beyond me (she would win two Emmys for her Lady Macbeth in two different adaptions of MACBETH), it's the most extraordinary performance I ever seen in a television production, full of venom, anguish, black humor, vulnerability, and cunning.
Limited to one set like the play, one scarcely notices it given the brilliant writing and superb performances by most of the cast. Aline MacMahon is very fine as the nurse who knows only too well the potential depth of her mistress' vengeance and the three sympathetic young women of Corith add much with their commentary, particularly the young Coleen Dewhurst. Most of the supporting roles are very well played, although I felt Henry Brandon was not a particularly good Jason, speaking a few of his lines occasionally a little stiffly and at times in way too contemporary a fashion. He also didn't quite capture the narcissism and arrogance of this man whose selfishness was the source of his wife's despair and madness. Fortunately, Judith's performance is so rich and multi-textured, one scarcely notices when another player can't quite keep up.
Filmed about a year before Anderson was crowned a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II, this cherished film should leave no doubt that Judith Anderson was a peerless actress and the one who most deserved the title of the Queen of the American Stage.
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