Eugene O'Neill's final completed play stands among his most compelling achievements. But its reception was tardy in grasping the true quality of this swan song. Written in the early 1940s, A Moon for the Misbegotten was fi... more »rst produced by the Theatre Guild in 1947 and was a flop; O'Neill himself voiced insecurity about the play before his death in 1953. If only he had experienced Jose Quintero's production in 1973, he would have seen his work vindicated. From the start, Moon is an immense challenge to cast properly and to pace effectively. The smallest miscalculation can shift what should be emotionally wrenching into insufferable sentimentality. This long, lyrical drama offers no place to hide from the searingly intense light it casts on its two central characters. Yet the match here between Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards is so ideal that they set the gold standard for the play, which has since become much better known in an increasing number of subsequent revivals. On one level a sequel to Long Day's Journey into Night, Moon continues the former's process of exorcism, but without its turmoil and rage. Instead, the tone--so beautifully calibrated in Quintero's sense of rhythm and musical shaping--is one of elegy, resignation, and compassion. Robards built a career on his uncanny ability to project himself as a soulmate of O'Neill's down-and-out, disillusioned breed of "misbegotten" mortals. He plays alcoholically self-destructive, poetry-quoting older brother Jamie Tyrone (from Journey) with hard-edged honesty. The "giantess" earth-mother Josie is eloquently realized by Colleen Dewhurst in a sturdy and stoical but nuanced portrayal that makes Jamie's confession at the heart of Moon just as much her story and need to experience a "night different from all the rest." Somehow, in the unexpected grace they share, both manage to break free, just for one night, from the patterns they've allowed to predict their behavior. Ed Flanders (who won a Tony with Dewhurst for the revival) brings a magnificent deadpan humor to the Irish tenant farmer father Hogan, concealing his love behind a shared ritual of play-acting with Josie. The DVD is from a made-for-TV production, with the obvious limitations of camera angles and close-ups; it contains no frills (discounting nearly an hour of excerpts from other Broadway Theatre Archive titles), just the pared-down authenticity of O'Neill's characters brought to life with truth-seeking power. --Thomas May« less
"this production has some of the greats in it and directing it. jason robards and colleen dewhurst really make the characters come alive. it is a bittersweet story, all the more satisfying if you happened to have seen "long days journey into night" first. Eugene O'Neill is a master."
It makes me wish I'd seen the stage production.
Sadie | Ventura, CA United States | 07/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was completely mesmorized by this production. It had my undivided attention from start to finish. My first introduction to Eugene O'Neill was when I saw A Long Days Journey in the late 70's with Deborah Kerr. It was a play I have never forgotten. If I had one wish after watching A Moon for the Misbegotten on film it would be to turn back the time 25 years so I could see Colleen Dewhurst as Josie in person. O'Neill's plays have an all male cast with the exception of one very strong female role. It took a strong yet amiable personality to play Josie, and Colleen Dewhurst was just the actress to capture the attention of an entire audience while not upstaging the other actors. If you love Colleen Dewhurst, Jason Robards, Eugene O'Neill, or the theatre in general, this is one performance not to be missed."
A Moon for the Misbegotten
JAMJAZZ | MI | 03/03/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This may not be one of the more well known of O'Neill's plays but it stands with "Long Day's Journey ..." and "The Iceman Cometh" when you want realistic,intense drama. There is humor to begin but be prepared to strap yourself in because this is an emotional ride to the depths of a human soul. I saw this when it was originally broadcast on ABC television more than 30 years ago and it stuck with me all these years. It has not lost it's punch!! I highly recommend it."
Ah, Look at that Moon...Would ya?
Erika K. Bolin | Los Angeles | 07/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You meet O'Neill's family again here. MFTM is like a sequel to 'A Long Day's Journey Into Night.' It's slow, and unravels as O'Neill likes to. Rich and full of throat-tightening moments. This is one helluva show by one of the finest O'Neill actors (Robards) to speak the words. Buy it, sit down on a slow day or night, and just enjoy the words and people you spy on for a time. 'Iceman Cometh' is still my favorite, but this comes pretty darn close to warming the heart as fully."
What you see is what you get
Daryl Chin | Bklyn, NY USA | 05/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an example of a product simply being what it is; that is: this is a transcription of the television special of the celebrated production of O'Neill's great play A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, starring Jason Robards Jr. and Colleen Dewhurst at their peak. These two performances are probably among the greatest ever put on the American stage: Robards and Dewhurst were the perfect interpreters for the raging emotions of this tortured genius of a playwright. There's little filmic technique to speak of, and there's no real imagination in terms of the visual handling or the filming (to see a really brilliant example of "filmed theater" which truly transcends itself, you can check out Louis Malle's VANYA ON 42nd STREET), but it doesn't matter, because what you're getting, the absolutely sublime performances of Robards and Dewhurst, is transcendence enough."