Landmark film....medicore presentation from Artisan/Republic
B. Margolis | Minneapolis, MN United States | 05/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another strip-down medicore presentation from Artisan....This is a landmark brilliant film of perhaps Eugene O'Neill's great play. The directing by Sidney Lumet and the acting by Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards, and Dean Stockwell is nothing less than amazing. This has got to be one of the 3 all-time greatest performaces from the late Ms. Hepburn!Simply one of the most amazing films of the 1960's.This should have been issued on Criteron. We should have gotten a first-rate restoration job with either a good documentary/back story on the making of the film, or a commentary by the two survivors of the film, Dean Stockwell and Sidney Lumet.Instead we get a nearly public-domain quality release.I'm so happy to finally get this important film on DVD...but I'm utterly disappointed at the slap-dash quality one has come to expect from Artisan."
FIVE stars for the performances, ONE star for DVD quality
M. McM | Los Angeles, CA | 10/08/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with the reviews, the performances are absolutely stunning, especially Katharine Hepburn's, possibly the best of her career if not one of the best ever captured on film.
HOWEVER, this DVD release is atrocious. This is close to a three-hour film and they crammed on to one disc. That wouldn't be so bad had they done a new transfer, but this looks like the same one used for the VHS tape. Cropped for the TV screen like the video release, (this was definitely shot in widescreen, according to imdb.com), it's got the same gritty, low-res quality. You could tape this movie off of TCM or Bravo and get better quality. Rent it, tape it, but hold off on buying this until it's given a proper DVD release (if anyone from the Criterion Collection's listening, please license this movie!)"
M. McM | 08/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is perhaps the finest film of a serious American play ever produced. The acting, the direction, the music (by Andre Previn), the cinematography, and (most of all) the timeless anguish of Eugene O'Neill's script---all come together in a film so astonishingly powerful that it will take your breath away.If there is a complaint to be lodged about this film, it is this: that the performances of the four leads (Katherine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards, and Dean Stockwell) are so definitive that, at least for me, watching any other version of this play has become impossible. I walked out on a well-reviewed live staging at intermission and turned off the PBS remake with Jack Lemmon at the end of the first act. It should not be this way, but it is: the filmmmakers did their work all too well! Be forewarned: this film is very long (three hours), very talky, and very, very bleak. If you are expecting car crashes or hot sex scenes, look elsewhere. When Hollywood makes silly romance movies, they are often advertised as being about "the human heart." No: "Long Day's Journey Into Night" is about the human heart. And it is the most emotionally shattering motion picture I have ever seen."
Mediocre DVD transfer
Brian Judge | Washington DC | 07/27/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is a powerful film that's making its long-awaited DVD debut and what do we get -- a scratchy print scaled down from widescreen to a 4X3 aspect ratio, essentially the same as its VHS presentation. The price is cheap for good reason ...this is a beauty that's been somewhat stripped of its grandeur."
Hepburn's Greatest Peformance in O'Neill's Greatest Tragedy
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Eugene O'Neill finished writing "Long Day's Journey Into Night" in 1940, but when he died in 1951 his will specifically stated the play was not to be produced until at least 25-years after his death. Because his widow relented and gave her permission for this "play of old sorrow written in tears and blood" we are left with this 1962 film and Katharine Hepburn's greatest acting performance. I first stumbled upon this film on late night television twenty years ago and I still remember staying up and crying throughout the emotionally devastating conclusion with the camera slowly pulling back from the family sitting around the table before a stunning series of emotional close ups of the doomed Tyrones. This painfully autobiographical play is set on the long day and night in 1912 when the Tyrone family deals the news that young Edmund (Dean Stockwell) has tuberculosis. The tragedy is compounded by the rest of the family: a father (Ralph Richardson) who is a miser, a brother (Jason Robards, Jr., repeating his stage performance) who finds solace in drink, and a mother who retreats into her addiction to morphine before the night is over. Writing about his own family, O'Neill not only changed their last names to Tyrone but also switched Eugene with Edmund, the name of the infant brother who died. After watching this heartbreakingly painful story you know why the playwright wanted it tucked away until he was long gone. Hepburn received her ninth Oscar nomination for her role as Mary Tyrone (the award went to Anne Bancroft for "The Miracle Worker"), and the four actors shared the acting award for the Cannes Film Festival along with the principals of "A Taste of Hone" (no clue how they came to that strange pairing). The almost 3-hour film is the complete O'Neill script (the key selling point for Hepburn in taking the role) and was shot by director Sidney Lumet in sequence in 37 days after the cast rehearsed for three weeks. The music score is by Andre Previn and Boris Kaufman was the cinematographer of this black and white film. O'Neill is enjoying something of a revival thanks to Kevin Spacey in "The Iceman Cometh" on Broadway, but when it comes to film this is far and away the best representation of his work. Given that he wrote extremely long plays about the early part of the last century, it is likely we will never see a greater film version of O'Neill than "Long Day's Journey Into Night." Interesting background tidbit: Hepburn tried to talk Spencer Tracy into taking the role of the father. Tracy, who was already in failing health, turned it down, claiming it was a question of salary (Hepburn received only $25,000 for her part). Some of Tracy's biographers, wondering how one of the greatest actors of the century would have done with one of the greatest plays, have suggested that Tracy was intimidated by the role. Still, it is hard not to fantasize about the "Long Day's Journey Into Night" as a Tracy-Hepburn vehicle."