A Very Good Page-to-Screen Presentation
Eric Bowling | 03/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Lanford Wilson is the modern day Chekhov, and while "Fifth of July" isn't the absolute best example of this, it comes pretty darned close. The only thing really out of place is William Hurt as Kenneth, here portrayed by Richard Thomas. Throw away all preconceptions of Thomas's from his most famous earlier work (involving a family drama), and you'll find yourself very satisfied with his performance, as he is able to play the typically reserved, held-back Wilson-esque character of Kenneth with greath verve and conviction. He seems to be having so much fun, always smiling and giggling, but you can see in Thomas's performance that there's deep emotional baggage stirring, and even though William Hurt would've been able to more thoroughly convey Kenneth's complex character, Thomas does a very good job and it doesn't affect the quality of the production at all. Just don't stare directly at that mole-thingie on his face!Swoozie Kurtz won the Tony for best actress, and you can see why clear on screen. Gwyneth Landis is one of the great characters of stage. . . outrageous, yet not Roberto Begnini level crazy. It's very pathological (the good meaning) and motivated. You'll enjoy it very much. The production also features great performances from Jeff Daniels as Judd, and looking back now, after all the comedies that he's become so well-known for, you'll realize that he's an even better dramatic actor (on Stage and Film). He and Thomas seem to have a good affinity. The rest of the cast, save Cynthia Nixon, is from the Broadway cast, and they're all excellent. Speaking of Cynthia Nixon, even at such a young age, she gives a truly excellent performance as June Talley, the last of the Talleys. Her part really isn't a large one . . . she's a supporting character, but she fulfills much more than her supporting part offers, and her eyes are magnetic, if not hypnotic in their intensity. She's young and naive, yet still she possesses
a great sense of maturity, and her ending speech, about how she is the last of the Talley's, is great. If you're a fam of the Talley Trilogy, you'll very much like the little resonances here and there in "Fifth of July."
I don't think "Fifth of July" would be as enjoyable for younger people as opposed to older ones. The subject matter alone dictates that, so if you're reading this now, you're probably be just fine. If you lived during the turbulent Sixties, then this production will definately be of interest to you. If you're a fan of good drama, not matter the medium, you'll find a lot to enjoy in "Fifth of July."
If you're a fan of Lanford Wilson, and have seen or read "Talley and Son," and "Talley's Folly," the other two plays in the Talley Trilogy, then this is a no-brainer. We're very lucky that finally, Wilson's great works have begun to emerge into the video mass media. Now many more people can experience his magic.
Better On Stage, but Worth The Entry Price
Jose R. Perez | Yonkers, NY USA | 02/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was lucky to see the original production on Broadway, with both Swoozie Kutz and Christopher Reeve (and again later with Richard Thomas. Trust me, you'll forget "Sisters" "Superman" and "The Waltons" ever existed when you experience these tremendous talents literally oozing character out of their pores. Reeve's performance was for the ages, and not represented here, but Lanford Wilson is a contemporary genius of playwriting, and "A Fifth of July" shows you why. His staging is precise without being too studied, and his language soars in accessible ways that any audience will appreciate. With undercurrents of pathos and sublime sexuality, the play succeeds by burrowing under the audience's skin. It's easy to imagine yourself with THIS particular family, in these particular circumstances, even if it IS the early 80's...the beginning of the ME decade. Deep, powerful, funny and humane Wilson's landmark of a play still stands the test of time. Enjoy it and love it!"
Great cast doing a great play!
Eric Bowling | 04/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a pleasure it is to see this production again. I've seen several live productions of "Fifth of July;" and it has become one of my favorite plays. I well remember this broadcast version from many years ago when it was first broadcast on PBS; I was blown away by the fine performances then, and I am still. It was unforgettable. For those of us who remember the 60s and early 70s, its like welcoming dear old friends into my home. It's a terrific, warmhearted and human play. And really funny too. The performances are first rate all, but Swoosie Kurtz is amazing and touching as an ex-hippy with a fried brain, heart of gold and the wisdom of an old soul. Thanks to Broadway Theater Archives for this special treat."
A great play by a great playwright
Eric Bowling | 07/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This absorbing, amusing and moving play receives a splendid performance by an able cast. While Richard Thomas, Jeff Daniels and the rest acquit themselves splendidly, it is Swoozie Kurtz' brilliant performance that sticks in the mind. This really is a taught-me-what-it-means-to-be-a-human-being kind of play. Try it, you'll love it."