Successful adaptation of O'Neill's "upmarket soap opera"
This 1958 telerecording of O'Neill's 1928 play (aptly described by writer John Wyver as an "upmarket soap opera") remained unseen in any format until it was shown at BFI Southbank in 2015. The play's original running time (sometimes between 4 and 5 hours depending on the number and length of intervals) was cut by Ian Dallas to 3 hours. Because the action covers 25 years, ageing make-up is required, and therefore the play couldn't be broadcast live. Instead it was telerecorded in sections and then broadcast in two parts. There were no re-takes and so fluffs are retained. O'Neill's family saga was an experiment, almost psychodrama, because the characters' thoughts are spoken as asides. Here, as with the (much shorter)1932 movie, they're done as voice-overs. The device works well; Noel Willman is the most adept at the hard job of reacting as he listens to his own thoughts. The leading female role requires a Hamlet-style tour de force; Diane Cilento does well and she gets strong support, even from David Knight, not remembered as a great actor. He's one of two Americans in the cast but, oddly, none of the Brits attempts an American accent. Given the simple story, it's a long haul, even at 3 hours, but in the unlikely event of this programme ever getting another public screening, it's worth seeing as a considerable technical feat for its time and for its performances. (It's possibly far superior to the "laughable" 1932 version).
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