Great Performances (1971– )
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The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd 

Mr. Holroyd is an alcoholic, abusive miner in pre-WWI England who terrorizes his family. Mrs. Holroyd plans to run away with her would-be lover when Mr. Holroyd dies in a mining accident, ... See full summary »


, (as John Desmond)



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Episode credited cast:
Emery Battis
Veronica Castang ...
Frank Converse ...
Joyce Ebert ...
Vicky Geyer
Timothy Ousey
Rex Robbins ...
William Swetland


Mr. Holroyd is an alcoholic, abusive miner in pre-WWI England who terrorizes his family. Mrs. Holroyd plans to run away with her would-be lover when Mr. Holroyd dies in a mining accident, leaving the family torn with guilt over their hatred of the dead man. Geraldine Page and Rex Robins star. Written by billfritz1

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Release Date:

8 May 1974 (USA)  »

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Version of Performance: The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Rare D.H. Lawrence drama
9 March 2009 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

D.H. Lawrence is of course best known for his novels, but he also wrote several plays, of which 'The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd' is probably the best constructed. I dislike Lawrence's novels while recognising his skill in writing them, and I felt somewhat similar about this play: I disliked it, yet recognised it as a mature work by a talented author.

The play is set in a dreary mining town, and the action is centred on the deteriorating marriage between a loutish miner (Rex Robbins) and his more refined wife (Joyce Ebert). Holroyd is a drunkard who abuses his wife physically and emotionally, even bringing home younger women to flaunt his infidelities in front of his long-suffering spouse. In spite of everything, Mrs Holroyd still loves her husband.

Among Holroyd's workmates is Blackmore, a more sensitive man. In love with Mrs Holroyd himself, he offers to take her and her two young children away with him to Spain. Frank Converse is fitfully excellent in this role. His performance reaches an emotional peak during Blackmore's frustrated liaison with Mrs Holroyd, telling her: "Why should he have you and I've never had anything?"

The best performance here is given by Rex Robbins. He has consistently impressed me in other roles. but this was the first time I've seen him portray an unsympathetic character. As played by Robbins, Holroyd is singularly repellent. Robbins reminds me of Arthur Kennedy: both were dynamic actors with wide ranges, yet both somehow lacked that certain spark that is necessary for stardom.

The drama's title is a built-in spoiler: we suspect (correctly) that Holroyd will be dead before the final fade-out. During the climactic fight between the two men, Blackmore knocks the drunken Holroyd unconscious and then -- ever the gentleman -- wipes the blood off Holroyd's face. One of the most moving scenes occurs when Mrs Holroyd and her mother-in- law wash Holroyd's corpse. I found this drama repellent yet powerful, and this production is skilfully done. My rating: 7 out of 10.

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