- The Roots of Eugene O'Neill 2/8/2007 12:00:00 AM by bkoganbing
For what Eugene O'Neill expected to be his epitaph work, he wrote Long Day's Journey Into Night in 1942 with instructions to his third wife Carlota Monterey, that it be not performed until 25 year after his death. We should have first been seeing it in 1977, but the rights reverted to Yale University and they broke the O'Neill instructions and published the play in 1956 and it made it's Broadway debut in 1957. All of the four principal members of the cast got Tony Nominations with Fredric March winning the Tony that year. Wife Florence Eldridge played the drug addicted Mary Tyrone and the sons were played by Jason Robards, Jr. and Bradford Dillman.
Odd that Fredric March who certainly was a movie name was not asked to repeat his performance, but Ralph Richardson certainly fills in for him ably. Jason Robards, Jr. was the only member of the original Broadway cast to repeat his part for the screen as the drunken and whoring older brother. Younger brother Edmund the prototype for O'Neill himself is played here by Dean Stockwell.
However in the only film she did between Suddenly Last Summer in 1959 and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner in 1967 was cast Katherine Hepburn as the mother who because of her drug addiction descends into madness. She got an Oscar nomination, but lost to Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker.
O'Neill when he died was acclaimed as America's foremost dramatist and many will say he is still that today. Long Day's Journey Into Night is short on plot, but long and deep on characterization. The whole action of the play takes place in 1912 on a summer's day at the home of James Tyrone acclaimed matinée idol of a bygone era with Tyrone and his family. Eugene O'Neill wanted to show us where he came from and why he had the attitudes he did and he succeeded beyond even his own imagination.
The Tyrones are the O'Neills. In more ways than one I might add. O'Neill was the family name of the Earl of Tyrone who back in Queen Elizabeth's Tudor England was the uncrowned King Of Ireland. O'Neill knew full well the rank he had attained in his own profession and was claiming literary royalty so to speak.
Ralph Richardson as James Tyrone/O'Neill was an actor of great promise who got acclaim for performing as The Count of Monte Cristo in a dramatization of Alexander Dumas's novel. He took easy success and performed the play so much the public would not see him as anything else. Certainly actors try to avoid typecasting and while the play made him rich eventually the public bored of it and him. Knowing that money was not coming in, he invested frugally into real estate. Some call it frugal, some call it cheap.
During the difficult birth of Eugene/Edmund, Mary Tyrone/O'Neill developed an addiction to morphine, mainly because Richardson went to a cheap quack. The American stage had not seen a descent into madness like this since Jessica Tandy in Streetcar Named Desire. Though she was nominated for this performance and won four Academy Awards for other films, this may be Katherine Hepburn's best work. It's also one of the few substantial women's roles in any of Eugene O'Neill's plays. You will not forget Hepburn in this part.
Jason Robards, Jr. was older brother James Tyrone/O'Neill. He's several years older than his younger brother and there was another son who died in infancy between them. He's not got his brother's talent for writing and as an actor, he's followed his father and taken the easy road to dissipation himself. Both are carousers, but Richardson's a has been, and Robards will become a never was.
The Tyrone/O'Neill family is all recorded through the perceptive eyes of Dean Stockwell. This was Eugene O'Neill's way of taking us into a dark corner of his past, he's letting us know as few humans on the planet ever did as to what made him tick.
Once seen Long Day's Journey Into Night is never forgotten.
- Brilliant performances 3/17/1999 12:00:00 AM by Wayne119
When you read them from a book, Eugene O'Neill's plays seem kind of flat. The dialog seems ordinary and uninspired compared to more poetic U.S. playwrights like Tennessee Williams.
But the brilliant acting in this film version of "Long Day's Journey" - especially the delicately nuanced work of Katharine Hepburn as the mother and a sensitive performance by Dean Stockwell as the younger son - shows me what a magnificent playwright O'Neill was. At times this tragic play seems almost Shakespearean.
- A great film adaptation 11/7/1999 12:00:00 AM by bross3
Although this film retains the feel of a stage production, this seems to heighten the tension and emphasize how amazing these performances really are.
I've always felt that the play is well-suited to being filmed in black and white. The lack of color seems to bring out even more of the dreary agony that the characters are going through, as well as making the fog seem even more dismal and real.
Because O'Neill's play is apparently autobiographical, the suffering is amplified intensely. This film is a fantastic drama--but because of the length (around 3 hours) and the anguish that the characters go through, you need to be sure you're in the right mood before you sit down to watch it.
- A Moving, Faithful Rendition 3/22/1999 12:00:00 AM by harry-76
How fortunate we are to have so fine a production of one of Eugene O'Neill's most personal revelations permanently preserved on film. What marvelous casting: Katherine Hepburn, Sir Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards, Jr., and Dean Stockwell. This skillful quartet works together with perfect intonation, assisted ably by Sidney Lumet's perceptive direction and Andre Previn's haunting piano score. If possible see the full-length 174 minute version as originally presented to get the film's full impact.
- A Long Day's Journey into a movie with star calibre performances of a majorly dysfunctional family. 12/13/1998 12:00:00 AM by rondine
A long descent into the sick heart of a family that is as dysfunctional as any to ever hit the silver screen. This movie covers, in sometimes tedious detail, the idiosyncrasies of each member of the family. Mom, (Kate Hepburn) in an Oscar-worthy performance as the center of the family and a drug addict. She is almost too convincing as someone on the edge. Dad, (Richardson) as the miserly father too cheap to even give his sick wife and son the proper medical treatment. And the 2 sons played by Stockwell and Robards as the demented and damaged off-shoots of 2 very fragile human beings. If you look closely, O'Neil has made it so that it seems each individual is responsible for the way the family has turned out. And so it is with all of us. It is not just our parents but ourselves that effect the family tree and its health or lack of it.