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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Moon For The Misbegotten (1975)

Set in 1923 on a small Connecticut farm, a conniving farmer (Ed Flanders) plots to compromise his domineering daughter (Colleen Dewhurst) with their alcoholic landlord (Jason Robards) and thus blackmail him into selling the farm to them at a price less than the farm's value. I don't think this is one of Eugene O'Neill's strongest plays and it has had a rocky road. First performed in 1947, it wasn't produced on Broadway until 1957 where it only ran for two months in spite of a cast that included Wendy Hiller and Franchot Tone. Its most successful revival was in 1973 which ran for almost a year and won a best actress Tony for Dewhurst and it's this production that was filmed for television 2 years later. Co-directed by Jose Quintero (who directed the 1973 production) and Gordon Rigsby, it's a simple piece of filmed theater with no concession to the TV medium. It takes awhile to get its rhythm going what with O'Neill's dialog having a tendency toward overemphasis and repetition. But the second half more than makes up for the long exposition. Robards had already proved himself with O'Neill's material having already done both THE ICEMAN COMETH and LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and he's superb here as is Dewhurst. Dewhurst was one of those great actresses, as powerful as Davis or Magnani, who never got a fair shake in the movies. This filmed production serves a testament to her burning talent. With John O'Leary and Edwin McDonough.   

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