14 theatrical examples: drama, musical, comedy
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 06/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"KINO'S AMERICAN FILM THEATRE offers all fourteen titles in this prestigious mid-1970s stage-to-film series in one collection. Included are the finest works of the greatest playwrights, as rendered by top-notch actors and directors. Audio and video transfers of the restored movies is also first rate. It's a collection ideal for lovers of theater or for any fan of classy cinema. Highest recommendation!
By way of introduction to another theatrical collection, I'd like to recommend KULTUR's version of THE ICEMAN COMETH (starring Jason Robards Jr.), from their superlative BROADWAY THEATRE ARCHIVE series.
SYNOPSES (listed alphabetically):
BUTLEY-- Concerns a moment of crisis in the life of an alcoholic college professor, who loses both his wife and male lover on the same day. Students, friends and colleagues take the brunt of the suicidal man's outbursts as he literally falls to pieces.
A DELICATE BALANCE-- Edward Albee drama about a dysfunctional Connecticut family is powerfully enacted by an all-star cast.
GALILEO-- Adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's story of the later life of the Italian Renaissance philosopher/scientist who was persecuted by the Church for his support of the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the sun.
THE HOMECOMING-- Another bleak story of a less-than-ideal family whose members are locked in an endless power struggle.
IN CELEBRATION-- At a British family reunion (parents' wedding anniversary), three sons argue while their mum and da try to ride out the storm.
JACQUES BREL IS...-- A show woven around 35 songs written by the famous mid-20th Century French troubadour.
LOST IN THE STARS-- Kurt Weill's last stageshow is a musical influenced by Porgy & Bess. Adapted from Alan Paton's "Cry the Beloved Country" by Maxwell Anderson.
LUTHER-- An exploration of the life of the man, who in the 1500s, changed the face of Christianity forever.
THE MAIDS-- Based on a true story of a French woman and her daughter who were brutally murdered by a pair of sisters they employed as servants. In this Jean Genet play, the housemaids dream up elaborate sadomasochist fantasies while Madame is away.
THE MAN IN THE GLASS BOOTH-- A Jewish death camp survivor who is now wealthy and living in Manhattan is arrested and put on trial for Nazi war crimes. Based on the Adolf Eichmann case.
PHILADELPHIA...-- Serio-comedy about the last few hours a young man spends in Ireland prior to his emigration to America.
RHINOCEROS-- Absurdist story written by Eugène Ionesco about the inhabitants of a small French town who transform into the horned beasts, all save one man, a heavy-drinking ne'er-do-well. This unusual study of philosophy, morality and culture reteams "The Producers" Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Watch for a cameo by Anne Ramsey (Momma in "Throw Momma from the Train").
THREE SISTERS-- Three siblings lead empty lives after the death of their Army officer father. Chekhov play adaptation is directed by Laurence Olivier, who also has a minor role (Dr. Chebutikin).
Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are viewer poll ratings found at a film resource website.
(7.3) Butley (UK/Canada-1974) - Alan Bates/Jessica Tandy/Richard O'Callaghan/Susan Engel/Michael Byrne
(7.8) The Iceman Cometh (1973) - Lee Marvin/Fredric March/Robert Ryan/Jeff Bridges/Bradford Dillman/Martyn Green/Moses Gunn
(7.0) Luther (UK/Canada-1974) - Stacy Keach/Patrick Magee/Hugh Griffith/Judi Dench
(6.1) The Maids (UK-1975) - Glenda Jackson/Susannah York/Vivien Merchant/Mark Burns
(5.8) Rhinoceros (USA/UK/Canada-1973) - Zero Mostel/Gene Wilder/Karen Black/Joe Silver/Robert Weil/Anne Ramsey
(6.9) A Delicate Balance (USA/Canada/UK-1973) - Katherine Hepburn/Paul Scofield/Lee Remick/Kate Reed/Joseph Cotten/Betsy Blair
(7.8) The Homecoming (UK/USA-1973) - Cyril Cusack/Ian Holm/Michael Jayson/Vivien Merchant/Terence Rigby/Paul Rogers
(7.0) In Celebration (UK-1975) - Brian Cox/Gabrielle Daye/Bill Owen/Alan Bates/James Bolan/Constance Chapman
(7.6) The Man in the Glass Booth (1975) - Maximilian Schell/Lois Nettleton/Lawrence Pressman/Luther Adler/Lloyd Bochner
(6.5) Three Sisters (UK-1970) - Jeanne Watts/Joan Plowright/Louise Purnell/Derek Jacobi/Laurence Olivier/Alan Bates
(6.6) Galileo (UK-1975) - Topol/John Gielgud/Patrick Magee/Tom Conti/Edward Fox/Mary Larkin/Michael Lonsdale
(6.3) Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (France/Canada-1975) - Elly Stone/Mort Shuman/Joe Masiell/Jacques Brel
(6.3) Lost in the Stars (1974) - Brock Peters/Melba Moore/Raymond St. Jacques/Clifton Davis/Paul Rogers
(5.5) Philadelphia, Here I Come! (Ireland-1975) - Donal McCann/Des Cave/Siobhan McKenna/Eamon A. Kelly"
FRONT ROW SEAT FOR SOME MIGHTY GREAT WORKS
Alan W. Petrucelli | THE ENTERTAINMENT REPORT (ALAN W. PETRUCELLI) | 09/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having a front row seat for many, many evenings of great theater has never been so easy. Kino---the company that releases and re-releases great flicks at (usually) high prices---has issued the entire American Film Theatre (AFT) collection in one 15-disc thin-case box set. But that's not all: Originally released in three individual sets in 2003 at a total cost of $329.95, this set is a mere $199.95---that's suggested retail, and still cheaper than choice seats to Young Frankenstein.
AFT was the vision of producer Ely Landau, who was determined to make high-quality drama and comedies starring top talent. Through its years of AFT's existence (1973-75), AFT films were shown in selected theatres, and only for members who bought an annual subscription.
What do you get for the money? A complete list of films, cast members and accompanying bonus features would take up too much space, so I've swallowed hard and chosen only a few to highlight . . . a very tough task indeed. If you consider these appetizers. Image the full course (and desserts!): The Iceman Cometh, starring Lee Marvin, Fredric March, Jeff Bridges and Robert Ryan; Three Sisters, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright; A Delic ate Balance, starring Katharine Hepburn and Paul Scofield and Rhinoceros, starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.
What's a bit unsettling is that such an amazing set is getting all but dismissed by its very distributor. The press release for The American Film Theatre: The Complete Collection is riddled with embarrassing and insulting typos: It's Fredric March, not "Frederick", it's Jacques Brel, not "Jacques Brell;" it's Kurt Weill, not "Kurt Weilll;" it's Katharine Hepburn, not "Katherine Hepburn;" it's "Philadelphia, Here I Come," not "Philadephia, Here I Come;" Maximilian Schell, not Maximillian Schell; it's John Osborne, not "John Osbourne;" and it's Jacques Brel and Elly Stone starring in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, not Melba Moore and Brock Peters (who do star in the set's Lost in the Stars.)
Thank goodness the lack of proofing doesn't take away from the proof that this collection is top-notch."