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The Tragedy of King Lear (1982)

Video  |   |  Drama  |  31 December 1982 (USA)
6.6
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King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly ... See full summary »

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Title: The Tragedy of King Lear (Video 1982)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mike Kellin ...
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David Groh ...
Gela Nash ...
Goneril (as Gela Jacobson)
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Melora Marshall ...
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Carl Strano ...
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Edgar
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Ben Fuhrman ...
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Vincent Caristi ...
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Storyline

King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly flatter the old man in return for favor, he banishes her and turns for support to his remaining daughters. But Goneril and Regan have no love for him and instead plot to take all his power from him. In a parallel, Lear's loyal courtier Gloucester favors his illegitimate son Edmund after being told lies about his faithful son Edgar. Madness and tragedy befall both ill-starred fathers. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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31 December 1982 (USA)  »

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King Lear  »

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Uneven, but very effective in spots
26 September 2014 | by See all my reviews

I've watched every Lear I could get my hands on, and despite some glaring flaws, I come back to this one again and again. I'll start with the bad- - very cheesy synth music, hideous blocking on the fight scenes, and uneven acting (Rhoda's boyfriend in a Serious role? Ughh. ) It doesn't help that, in comparison, in the same year the RSC released an excellent version of Lear with the whole text and a masterful performance by Michael Hordern as Lear (and John Shrapnel as Kent) that is still my favorite overall.

What makes this version worth watching, despite some very obvious flaws and uneven acting, is Mike Kellin's performance as Lear. Kellin made his career as a character actor playing rough edged people on the edge of sanity, and I'd have to say he's my favorite all-around actor for Lear. (He only had about a year to live when he made this). Kellin was brilliant at bringing out the strong, harsh edge of Lear in the early acts, (the scene where he panics when he is driven to tears is fantastic), and his reading of the final scene (repeating the word "Nothing" five times in a row) is definitive. No other Lear I've seen and that combination of harshness and vulnerability as Kellin did in his performance. He keeps the balance pitch-perfect throughout.

So, if you watch this, brace yourself for some rough edges, wince at the lamely conceived fight scenes, cringe at the music, but don't you dare fast forward when Kellin is on the screen.


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