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Long Day's Journey Into Night

I watched the film of Eugene O'Neill's magnificent play yesterday - had seen it a long time ago, but had only blurred recollections of it.  I have clearer memories of seeing the play itself at Bristol Old Vic many years ago, with Timothy West and Prunella Scales, and Sean McGinley and Stephen Dillane as the two sons - fantastic.

But what a great film - a film of the play, essentially, but with wonderful filmic effects, such as the use of close-ups and great use of black and white film.  All four actors were marvellous, but it was so wonderful to see Ralph Richardson and Katharine Hepburn - two genuine greats - on screen again.

Devastating stuff, but brilliantly written, brilliantly acted, beautifully filmed.  I am no expert on the play, but I thought the film was superb.

Oh, I am so glad you liked it. I have this film on a pre-recorded VHS tape, and yes, it is magnificent.

I remember seeing an interview with Sidney Lumet in which he said that critics accused him of being un-cinematic in this film. He said that, in his opinion, this was the most cinematic film heíd made Ė that he had very consciously used all the lighting and editing techniques he could think of to communicate the drama. In no other film heíd made, he continued, did he have to think so hard about such matters as camera positioning, camera movement, etc. Another thing he said was rather interesting: he felt that it was the mother who is really at the centre of the drama.

I know I have said this before, but this play has very strong resonance for me, for reasons I canít quite fathom. I think I am attracted to works with a strong and uninhibited emotional content.

Iím sure youíve already seen this, but I have written a few personal impressions (as well as summaries of various performances available) here:


Earlier this year, when I was turning 50, a parcel arrived from my brother: it was the audio recording of this play on CD with Geraldine Fitzgerald and Robert Ryan. An unusual 50th birthday present, certainly, but I think my brother knew how I feel about this work. I hadnít even realised that this recording was available on CD.

I havenít seen the Timothy West-Prunella Scales performance, but Timothy West himself was not to happy about it. He said that, in retrospect, the idea of a real life husband-wife pairing was a bad idea, as it imparted a sense of cosiness which was out of place in a work such as this. I suppose these people are hyper-critical of themselves, as I canít imagine so fine a cast being in any way unsatisfactory. I have seen it on stage once, with Penelope Wilton and Richard Johnson as the parents.
and Paul Rhys and Mark Lambert as the sons.

       Big Readers Forum Index -> All things theatrical
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