Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with her faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past. Her son plans escape; her daughter withdraws into a dream world. When a "... See full summary »
Those proud but shopworn Wingfields are the subject of a CBS Playhouse production of The Glass Menagerie. And we are fortunate to see Shirley Booth in a classic role as she did not make very many big screen appearances during her long Broadway career. Clearly she favored the stage just like the Lunts and just like the original Amanda Wingfield Laurette Taylor.
Unlike other productions I've seen with Gertrude Lawrence and Katharine Hepburn, Booth is opting for a doughtier version of Amanda than the other two. When Laura who is played here by Barbara Loden asks Booth about the DAR meeting she was supposed to be at, looking at Booth I can't imagine the DAR letting her in the door. In her own way mother is as much in her own world as daughter.
The title refers to the delicate collection of glass figurines that shy and withdrawn Laura is obsessed with. She is also crippled and has withdrawn from the world. The little glass animals are delicate and someone like Laura also delicate completely submerges self into her play world with them.
Like any other mother Booth wants someone, anyone who is a proper gentlemen to take her daughter off her hands. For that she entrusts the task to son Tom who desperately wants to unshackle himself from his dead end warehouse job and see the world and do things. But Hal Holbrook is as much chained to his family as George Bailey is to the town of Bedford Falls. It's also his eyes with which we see all that unfolds.
Completing the quartet in this cast is co-worker of Holbrook's, Pat Hingle. Given Hingle's southern speech pattern I kind of thought that maybe he should have played the son. Still he turns in a nice performance in the least complex of the four roles.
For her role which is the pivotal part of the quartet Shirley Booth got a deserved Emmy nomination. For me with The Glass Menagerie the question is always, is Tom Wingfield making the right life decision in the end. I think those who watch The Glass Menagerie for generations to come will debate that question.
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