This Thornton Wilder play, the story of life on Earth from prehistoric times through World War II as lived by Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, their two children, and their house maid, Sabina, is ... See full summary »

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(adaptation), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Mr. Antrobus
Jonathan Anderson ...
Professor
Heller Halliday ...
Gladys
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Mrs. Antrobus
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Himself - Narrator
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Sabina
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Henry Antrobus
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Fortune Teller
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Judge
John Cameron Swayze ...
Narrator
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This Thornton Wilder play, the story of life on Earth from prehistoric times through World War II as lived by Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, their two children, and their house maid, Sabina, is filled with biblical and mythological references. Written by Wayne 119

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11 August 1955 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Skin of Our Teeth was first performed at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven, CT, Oct. 15, 1942. Opened at Plymouth Theatre, New York, Nov 18, 1942. Produced by Michael Myerberg, directed by Elia Kazan. Cast: Sabina, Tallulah Bankhead. Mr & Mrs Antrobus, Fredric March & Florence Eldridge. Antrobus children, Montgomery Clift & Frances Heflin. Fortune Teller, Florence Reed. London production opened at Phoenix Theatre May 16, 1945. Directed by Sir Laurence Olivier. Sabina, Vivien Leigh. Mr & Mrs Antrobus, Cecil Parker & Joan Young. Antrobus children, Terry Morgan & Pamela Conroy. Fortune Teller, Ena Burrill. Revival produced by American National Theatre and Academy for presentation in Paris in 1955 and later presented in a number of U.S. cities with most of the same cast as in the 1955 TV production (Mary Martin, George Abbott, Helen Hayes, Florence Reed). Directed by Alan Schneider. See more »

Connections

Remade as American Playhouse: The Skin of Our Teeth (1983) See more »

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Response to "This play is a ripoff"

roadrunn's review of 28 May 2002 refers to the article "The Skin of Who's Teeth?" (sic) published in the Saturday Evening Post (sic) in 1945 (sic) --

"The Skin of *Whose* (emphasis in original) Teeth? or The Strange Case of Mr. Wilder's New Play and Finnegan's Wake" was serialized in two issues of the Saturday Review of Literature 25: December 19, 1942, at pp. 3-4 and February 13, 1943, at pp. 16-18.

From the Wikipedia article on Thornton Wilder, on the controversy surrounding the play: "It was claimed by Joseph Campbell and Robert (sic) Morton Robinson, authors of A Skeleton Key to Finnegan's Wake, that much of the play was the result of unacknowledged borrowing from James Joyce's last work. (Footnotes 5&6)

"5. Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson published a pair of reviews-cum-denunciations entitled 'The Skin of Whose Teeth?' in the Saturday Review immediately after the play's debut; these created a huge uproar at the time.

"6. Joseph Campbell, Mythic Worlds, Modern Words, New World Library, 2004, pp. 257-66 reprints the reviews and discusses the controversy."

From Great American Writers: Twentieth Century, edited by R. Baird Shuman (Marshall Cavendish, New York, 2002), pp. 1646-47: "Criticism of this play was, for several decades, tainted by a mean-spirited series of articles by Henry M. Robinson and Joseph Campbell essentially accusing Wilder of plagiarizing The Skin of Our Teeth from James Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake. Subsequent critics have vindicated Wilder, whose borrowings are nothing like plagiarism. Wilder openly admired Joyce, on whom he frequently lectured . . . ."

Wilder himself wrote in the Preface to Three Plays: Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Matchmaker (Harper and Brothers, New York, 1957): "The play is deeply indebted to James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. I should be very happy if, in the future, some author should feel similarly indebted to any work of mine. Literature has always more resembled a torch race than a furious dispute among heirs."


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