This is an excellent adaptation for the small screen of Molière's farce, with a fine cast headed by Donald Moffat in the title role, Tammy Grimes as the female lead and a young Victor Garber as one of the juveniles.
Director Kirk Browning, a specialist in presenting theater on the small screen, keeps up visual interest by careful, slow-paced cuts and judicious, small camera movement to force the viewer's attention. The farce is funny, serious parts clear and if the ending is a *deus ex machina*, it was just the sort of ending to appeal to Molière's patron, the King of France.
Moliere's satires are the glories of the French theater -- particularly if, like I, you have little taste for the solemn bombast of Racine. Here, his target is hypocrisy and the ability of scoundrels to hoodwink the well-meaning. At its premiere it provoked a firestorm of rancor from those who felt it mocked the Roman Catholic Church. Had it been done today, it might have been written with Tartuffe as a televangelist. Indeed, the point could have been made clear by doing it in a modern dress version. Browning and associates, however, decided to avoid cries of outrage by presenting it in period. Wiser, perhaps, than Moliere.
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