Seen on PBS Written By: Teleplay writer Ron Cowen, based on the Willa Cather classic Starring: Eric Roberts, Michael Higgins Directed By: Lamont Johnson Description: Lost in a world of fantasy, young working-class Pau... more »l dreams of escaping his dreary existence in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh. As fate would have it Paul gets his chance by stealing some money and subsequently running off to glamorous New York City. Once there, Paul experiences everything he ever dreamed of?from a luxurious hotel suite to his first taste of champagne. However, when reality finally comes crashing down around him, Paul realizes the desperate course he must now take. In a powerful and intense performance, Eric Roberts (Academy Award nominee "Runaway Train", "Star 80") plays the title role in author Willa Cather's PAUL'S CASE. As the tortured and tragic young man, Roberts brings to life this classic American story of a sensitive soul pitted against an uncaring materialistic society. DVD Features: Author Bio, Actor Bio, Printable Study Guide, About the American Short Story Collection, Audio Interview ? Robert Geller, Henry Fonda Intro, Trailer« less
"This short story adaptation is beautifully wrought. The acting, direction, scenery, costumes all work together to bring over the kind of quality production one remembers well from the heyday of the BBC back in the 1970s when "Brideshead Revisited" was shown on PBS. Now that PBS does auctions, and the BIG Three do amateur-hour auditions, one must turn to HBO. The story is wonderfully conceived. A young boy, bored to death in the everyday life of Pittsburg, and crushed by uncaring adults including an unsympathetic father, is drawn to the arts, visual and performance. He has what has come to be known a an artistic temperament, is shy, withdrawn, effeminate, and unproductive. He has no talent,no discipline, no artistic training, no ambition. He just wants to "be" an artist or be with artists. His kind now makes up about 50% of the upper-middle class in America, and attends schools like Oberlin to major in romance languages or Russian literature. Is the author sympathetic? Is she saying that those of artistic temperament can't live in brutal America, or that this wannabe wants the wrongs things - champagne, cut flowers, suites of rooms at posh hotels - and wrongly thinks them artistic? Who knows? And where might I ask do they dig up these gorgeous young men with Irish pale skin and jet black hair to play in these dramatizations of classics, while our cop shows and audition shows and fake tropical islands are solely populated by uglies?"
"The First 'Entitled' American Child"
Stanley H. Nemeth | Garden Grove, CA United States | 05/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Willa Cather was astonishingly prescient in pointing out one kind of child the American plutocracy - entering the age of celebrity - must inevitably produce. Her character Paul is a bored kid at the throat of everyday parents, teachers, and classmates because they lack the artistic glamour that enraptures him. (Today he'd sport tattoos and metal studs on his face, imagining these would give him the charisma of a rock star.) Since he's full of artistic temperament, yet has little real talent himself or money of his own, he's eager to lick the boots of any artistic types or even of the rich swells who frequent concerts in his hometown. Working as an usher at the local Pittsburgh opera house and freely serving as a valet to the leading man at the adjacent theater, he dreams of one day hobnobbing with the really moneyed upper class New Yorkers who live the high life, drinking champagne and staying at the Waldorf.
Still, he is on target in seeing the Pittsburgh of his day as a pretty dull place, given over as it is so largely to the life of routine wage slavery and philistine materialism. He yearns for something more, something finer and joyous, and his awareness that something's missing in everyday life is the open sesame to our sneaking sympathy and finally pity for him.
This wonderful adaptation of Cather's short story avoids the dullness that so often characterizes Masterpiece Theater productions of classics. While wholly faithful to the story, it has been reconceived as a film. The camera moves a lot, the 19th century settings are superb, opera arias and harp music of the period are added, and above all the subtle acting of Eric Roberts, ranging from requisite sly smiles to fitting looks of childlike bemusement and finally loss is undeniably brilliant.
This outstanding DVD from an old PBS series deserves to be better known."
Only a Paul in a Gilded Age
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 08/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This loose adaptation of Willa Cather's 1906 McClure's magazine piece first aired on PBS's "American Short Story" series in 1980. The program's host, Henry Fonda was clearly in declining health here.
SYNOPSIS-- Paul is a starry-eyed youth from suburban Pittsburgh who questions what's already been determined for him by parental and societal expectations. A totally unmotivated student, Paul often spends his evenings in the company of those he finds glamorous-- actors. He's chronically late for school and falls asleep in class. When his uncaring recitivism brings a suspension from high school, Paul's father insists that he take a pre-arranged job.
To this point Paul's perceived existence has been gray and oppressive-- a busy offiice environment is saddest of all.
Given 2K to deposit in employer Denny & Carson's bank account, the thrill seeker absconds with their funds. Paul rides the train to NYC, buys a Brooks Brothers suit and takes a suite of rooms at the Waldorf Astoria. An elegant but unsustainable upper class Gilded Age lifestyle lies in stark contrast to the reality of Paul's troubled world, and dire consequences of his embezzlement clearly foreshadow a tragic denouement.
Eric Roberts is outstanding as Paul; also interesting is Tom Stewart's "hale fellow well-met" Yalie who invites him to indulge in some cat house recreation. This invitation is declined when Paul spots his father at the hotel's front desk. Hasty flight from responsibility ends alongside a rural Pennsylvania rail track.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb user poll rating.
(6.5) Paul's Case (TV-1980 - Eric Roberts/Michael Higgins/Gus Kaikkonen/Tom Stewart/Lindsay Crouse/Justine Johnson/Andrew Ethier/Henry Fonda (host)"
I Am Addicted! - Absolutely Gripping!
Nicholas C. Poser | 10/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am absolutely addicted. I watch it just about every night and sometimes on the my computer on the cab ride. I read "Paul's Case" last year in my literature class at school. I loved it from the beginning and I hope I am allowed to say that it is the greatest short story ever written by an American writer. I highly identify with the handsome, sensitive, loveable, and tasteful Paul in his longing for beauty and the romance of Life for which we all long and can find if we are able to escape the prison of rational, small-minded, machine-like society and cultivate what the great mythologist, teacher, scholar, and philosopher, Joseph Campbell (1904 - 1987) called our "bliss".
It is not as faithfully and strictly accurate a dramatization as I would have liked, but the drop-dead gorgeous Eric Roberts' performance is stunning and beautiful. He perfectly portrays the obviously beautiful and just as obviously troubled spirit of Paul. The program is introduced by Henry Fonda (1905 - 1982) who gives a beautiful summings-up of the story. He says about the author, Willa Cather (1873 - 1947):
"Most of all, she mourned the tragic loss to the world when a talented and sensitive child was denied the chance to develop. She wrote that `There is no work of art so big or beautiful that it was not once all contained in some youthful body.' Her story "Paul's Case" ...was first published in 1905. It's a story of longing. It tells of a young man who yearns to escape the frustrations of the daily round and enter the world of high art. In a way, he does succeed, but Miss Cather knew that escape from small-mindedness is not easy."
Like so many archetypal myths, "Paul's Case" tells of the sentient, human spirit pitted against the controlling, uncaring, monolithic Machine of Society (the same as Luke Skywalker against the Empire and Darth Vader) and the suffering that is so familiar to the modern teenager.
For all of the beauty and genius of the performance and dramatization, however obvious the attempt to restore the film, the picture quality is horrendous and the sound is equally horrific. The tape noise is loud and ugly and it is full of unseemly pops. The Henry Fonda intro is so faded that with the DVD picture on the factory setting of half-way on the color scale, the film might as well be in black and white. The brightest colors in the film are, of course, the bright red (usually of the main and iconic symbol of the story, Paul's rather head-turningly bright red carnation flowers), the white of the snow - or snow-threatening sky - the black of Eric Roberts' lovely hair - and suits - and most things, and muddy brown (just about everything else). Probably, apart from the horrific choice of film, part of the explanation for the terrible colors is that, if one searches the credits, one finds that the color has been "provided by TVC Laboratories" - no wonder! The color was added entirely post-production!
However, no matter, this is a beautiful and completely five-star drama which would hopefully make Miss Cather proud. I said it once, I will say it again, this is the greatest short story ever written by an American."
olga gerwing | lubbock texas | 07/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"its glance into American history but also eric roberts younger years. eric roberts is very boyish and innocent. Great acting and great movie a must see movie for those eric robert fans interested in the past "