"Attention must be paid" to this abbreviated but superb 1966 television adaptation by Arthur Miller of his Pulitzer Prize-winning modern tragedy, starring the incomparable Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock recreating their o... more »riginal Broadway roles as the Lomans. In a career-defining performance, Cobb portrays the suffering Willy Loman--the middle-aged man at the end of his emotional rope--with Dunnock equally impressive as his patient wife, Linda. George Segal and James Farentino play their disillusioned sons, Biff and Happy. Shattering and unforgettable, this landmark television production has been digitally remastered and will endure for all generations to come. "In a word, superb." --New York Times. With Gene Wilder as Bernard.« less
"If you want to see a production of one of American Theater's most important playwright's most important works, then look no further. Though there have been several noteworthy productions over the years, this Broadway Theater Archive treat showcases the "perfect" Salesman cast, in a treatment that is essentially a reblocking of the famed Elia Kazan Broadway premiere of the play. Willie Loman's originator, Lee J Cobb, reprises his role, along with Mildred Dunnock. Though Geroge C. Scott and Dustin Hoffman received critical acclaim for their interpretations of Willie Loman, neither holds a candle to Cobb. He simply "is" Willie. George Segal and John Malcovich weigh in about evenly in the "best Biff" category, but the nod goes to Segal, because of the great ensemble cast he was lucky enough to play off of. Yet another winner in a BTA series that chronicles American Theater in its greatest era (60's and 70s). Just a note to bear in mind that these plays are film versions of the plays exactly as they were staged on Broadway at the time, so don't look for cinematic production values. Sometimes the camera work is not ideal, but that doesn't get in the way of the consistently powerful performances, and that's what great theater is all about, anyway. I'm just grateful that most of the series is available and hope that the unavailable titles are just being restored and will be rereleased soon.BEK"
Invaluable for Cobb and Dunnock
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a great admirer of Arthur Miller's work, I have always wished I could have seen the original 1949 production of his masterpiece, DEATH OF A SALESMAN. This video of a 1966 television production, featuring the original Willy and Linda, Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock, is the next best thing -- especially as it was taped "live" and is more like a stage production than like a movie. As wonderful as Dustin Hoffman's portrayal is in the superb 1985 movie version of SALESMAN, Lee J. Cobb simply IS Willy Loman; he conveys the sadness and insecurity that lurk beneath Willy's outward bravado. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Act II scene with Bernard, when he offers Willy a cigarette from his expensive silver case. Cobb takes the case, holds it, looks at it, then slowly hands it back to Bernard. This one moment is so telling: Willy, who never achieved success, either for himself or for his sons, is envious of Bernard's success (and Bernard was never even "well-liked"), symbolized by the silver cigarette case. Mildred Dunnock is likewise ideal as Linda: fragile, but hard as steel when defending Willy to her two resentful sons, Biff and Happy (George Segal and the excellent James Farentino). Segal is especially fine in the hotel-room scene and at the end when, in the middle of a heated argument with his father, he suddenly grabs him and hugs him, weeping. This gesture tells us that Biff is furious with Willy not because he hates him, but because he loves him. Of the supporting actors, Edward Andrews stands out as Charley, Willy's prosperous but "laid-back" neighbor -- the antithesis of Willy himself. Only Bernie Koppel as Howard, Willy's boss, seems an odd choice: he looks more like a college student than like the head of a company. (But perhaps the director, Alex Segal, was just trying to emphasize Willy's age and his failure to "keep up with the times.") This, however, is the only possible weakness in a marvelous production that is essential viewing, if only for the classic portrayals of Cobb and Dunnock."
Mr. Cobb absolutely riveting.
Brent Carleton | 06/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
Seeing Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman in this David Susskind produced version is as close as possible to seeing the original play on Broadway, and a far sight better than just about any live production one could find nowadays.
Mr. Cobb's performance is so absorbing, so powerful and so disturbing, that we, (the audience) feel genuinely dazed at its conclusion. It's as though, by the time of the final scene, that we too, are attending Willy's funeral, and all stumble away drained and awed.
The supporting cast are each and all superb, with Mildred Dunnock probably topping anything else in which she has appeared. Set design is also inventive in its combination of abstract and realistic interiors and exteriors.
As to the character of Willy, it is to Mr. Cobb's credit, that for all of his past moral compromises and shabby aspirations, the most honest of us, will admit that we recognize something of ourselves in him.
Theater and television at its best! Thank you Mr. Susskind. (Also interesting to note Karen Steele relegated to a bit role while still such a young woman--what a step down from "Marty.")
A Masterful Work and Presentation by Cobb
John Jay | 06/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An insightful play about the realities of life. Cobb gives a standup performance in this classic play equal to none. Actors of his caliber are few and far between. Simply the best performance of this play to date. Lee becomes Willy in a somewhat scary portrayal. It is hard to tell the difference between Lee and Willy. Highly Recommend this version to serious theatre affcianados."
William Goodman | Maryland | 07/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Acting like they don't do anymore forcefully and beautifully delivers Arthur Miller's story of a failed salesman and his thoroughly dysfunctional family. The message of the original play, definitely opposing certain traditional American values, was too threatening for some business executives and flag-wavers of the time to accept, and the issues are just as valid today. Yet the play is in no way preachy nor overtly political. Instead, it's highly personal and devestatingly effective. This version is somewhat reduced from the original Broadway hit but is not perceptibly damaged by the cuts. Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock, of the original stage cast, are excellent again--in fact, Cobb's performance is possibly the best acting I've ever seen in any medium. You'll recognize Gene Wilder playing Bernard, but he lacks expressiveness in the role. The bright colors are a little too cheerful for the material. Otherwise, the film is just about perfect. Good citizens should see it to understand more fully the effects--good and bad--of our competetive culture."