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A Touch of the Poet (1974)

Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie 24 April 1974
Cornelius "Con" Melody is an Irish tavern keeper in New England who lives in reverence of his former days as a nobleman and decorated officer in the British army during the Napoleonic wars.... See full summary »


Eugene O'Neill (play)




Complete credited cast:
Donald Moffat ... Jamie Cregan
Robert Phalen Robert Phalen ... Mickey Maloy
Roberta Maxwell ... Sara Melody
Nancy Marchand ... Nora Melody
Fritz Weaver ... Cornelius Melody
Tom Clancy Tom Clancy ... Dan Roche
John Heffernan John Heffernan ... Paddy O'Dowd
Howland Chamberlain ... Patch Riley (as Howland Chamberlin)
Carrie Nye Carrie Nye ... Deborah Harford
Humphrey Davis Humphrey Davis ... Nicholas Gadsby


Cornelius "Con" Melody is an Irish tavern keeper in New England who lives in reverence of his former days as a nobleman and decorated officer in the British army during the Napoleonic wars. Impoverished now, he struts about in his uniform and plots to make money by manipulating the love of his daughter for the son of a wealthy manufacturer. His daughter sees through his façade and his chicanery and begins to plot for herself. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Plot Keywords:

filmed play | based on play | See All (2) »




Not Rated






Release Date:

24 April 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

To aggigma tou poiiti See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


The New York production of "A Touch of the Poet" by Eugene O'Neill opened at the Helen Hayes Theater in New York on October 2, 1958 and ran for 284 performances. See more »


As Con and Sara struggle by the door, a mic can be seen being pointed at them from the floor beyond the doorway as a sound man hides behind the wall trying to record them at that position. See more »


Version of Fast ein Poet (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

A brilliant performance of an O'Neill masterpiece
8 January 2005 | by clyonsSee all my reviews

I first saw "A Touch of the Poet" at a small theatre in New York City, a wonderful production that had the audience completely in its power for the play's entire duration. It's widely seen as one of his four late classics, the others being The Iceman Cometh, A Moon for The Misbegotten, and Long Day's Journey Into Night.

This is not a movie, but a filmed stage production, though not in front of a live audience--it's shot on videotape, and editing is limited, but they didn't simply stick a camera in front of the cast and film them. Close-ups are done appropriately, and sometimes this sort of production does a better job for a play than a bigger budget movie, because the focus is on the words and performance, not on cinematographers and directors showing off their visual prowess. Stephen Porter, an acclaimed director of stage revivals of classics, directed this, and did a predictably brilliant job capturing the power of O'Neill's most Irish play, which deals with the traumatic effects of immigration to a new country, but also the disconnect between what a man wants himself to be and what he is, and the pain that results when the two collide.

Fritz Weaver gets into the character beautifully, though one wishes Jason Robards' performance in the role (in the Jose Quintero production on Broadway) had also been preserved for posterity (which I don't believe it was). Nancy Marchand, decades before people suddenly woke up and noticed how amazing she was (in The Sopranos), shows that she can feign being Irish as well as she feigned being Italian. Generally speaking, the brogues are well done (something American actors often have trouble with), only exaggerated and embarrassing when they are SUPPOSED to be (since the whole point of the play is that the "hero" becomes a stage Irishman at the end).

Best of all is Roberta Maxwell's performance as Sarah Melody. This lovely Canadian actress captures the passion and pain of one of O'Neill's greatest female characters, and even as one empathizes with her sorrow, one also triumphs in her victory against the "pale bitch" so effectively portrayed by Carrie Nye. At the end of the play, she has gotten everything she ever wanted--and lost everything that ever mattered. There was supposed to be a cycle of plays about the Melodys, but this is the only one that O'Neill put the finishing touches on. It is easily one of the ten greatest American plays. And one can only feel sorry for any blaguard who can't see that. (g)

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