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O Youth and Beauty (Broadway Theatre Archive)
O Youth and Beauty
Broadway Theatre Archive
Actors: Michael Murphy, Kathryn Walker, John Harkins, Edward Herrmann, Holland Taylor
Director: Jeff Bleckner
Genres: Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2002     1hr 0min

This adaptation of John Cheever's famous short story captures with ironic comedy and drama the pathos of middle-aged, middle-class America. At the age of forty, Michael Murphy, a slightly inebriated suburbanite, confronts ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Michael Murphy, Kathryn Walker, John Harkins, Edward Herrmann, Holland Taylor
Director: Jeff Bleckner
Creators: Ann Blumenthal, J. Stephen Fairchild, Jac Venza, Noam Yerushalmi, A.R. Gurney, John Cheever
Genres: Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Drama, Television, Broadway Theatre Archive
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/26/2002
Original Release Date: 10/31/1979
Theatrical Release Date: 10/31/1979
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"Promise you won't do the hurdles again tonight."
Mary Whipple | New England | 07/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"One of three plays adapted by the Broadway Theatre Archive from short stories written by John Cheever, O Youth and Beauty is as much a product of the 1970s as are the other two stories/plays in the Shady Hill series, The Sorrows of Gin and The Five Forty-Eight. Produced in 1979, these plays reflect the struggle of educated suburbanites and their families to find meaning in their lives, struggles which, in their concern with preserving the yuppie life-style, now feel superficial, trite, and dated.

This story, adapted by A. R. Gurney, Jr., focuses on Cash Bentley (Michael Murphy), a forty-year-old former Princeton athlete who once won prizes for his hurdling ability. Now working for a New York bank and living in the tony suburb of Shady Hill, Cash finds his career stalled and his lifestyle making more rapid progress than his income. Like the the other Shady Hill characters, Cash finds solace in alcohol and parties, at which he continually "proves" that he is still a Big Man on Campus, by setting up hurdles--tables, chairs, sofas--over which he leaps after consuming too much alcohol.

Cash's Vassar-educated wife Louise (sensitively played by Kathryn Walker) ferries the children to their activities and tries to be the perfect wife, eventually finding a part-time job to help meet expenses. The marriage suffers strains as she grows with her experiences. Cash's injury during one of his inebriated hurdling exhibitions creates further stresses and the possibility of a separation. What might have been a thoughtful examination of 1970s angst becomes maudlin and melodramatic in its conclusion, however, simply a convenient way to "resolve" problems which have had no resolution.

Directed by Jeff Bleckner, this play, like the others in the series, features egotistical, chauvinist husbands, long-suffering wives and children, and a superficiality of lifestyle which is difficult to identify with. The dark satire of Cheever's short stories gets lost when the stories are converted to plays and the viewer is confronted with these "crises" in living color. In one humorous touch, the two characters from The Sorrows of Gin (played by Edward Herrmann and Sigourney Weaver) appear at the same party as the Bentleys, showing that these folks are all part of the same lifestyle, with similar problems.

Though Murphy and Walker do as much as they can within the limitations of their roles, this production, though technically competent, is by today's standards a museum piece, important as much for its record of seventies interior decoration, as it is for its depiction of a group of vacuous people with no goals, no connection to the real world, and no insight. n Mary Whipple