“I first saw “A Touch of the Poet” at a small theatre in New York City, a wonderful production that had the audience completely in its power for the play’s entire duration. It’s widely seen as one of his four late classics, the others being The Iceman Cometh, A Moon for The Misbegotten, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
This is not a movie, but a filmed stage production, though not in front of a live audience–it’s shot on videotape, and editing is limited, but they didn’t simply stick a camera in front of the cast and film them. Close-ups are done appropriately, and sometimes this sort of production does a better job for a play than a bigger budget movie, because the focus is on the words and performance, not on cinematographers and directors showing off their visual prowess. Stephen Porter, an acclaimed director of stage revivals of classics, directed this, and did a predictably brilliant job capturing the power of O’Neill’s most Irish play, which deals with the traumatic effects of immigration to a new country, but also the disconnect between what a man wants himself to be and what he is, and the pain that results when the two collide.
Fritz Weaver gets into the character beautifully, though one wishes Jason Robards’ performance in the role (in the Jose Quintero production on Broadway) had also been preserved for posterity (which I don’t believe it was). Nancy Marchand, decades before people suddenly woke up and noticed how amazing she was (in The Sopranos), shows that she can feign being Irish as well as she feigned being Italian. Generally speaking, the brogues are well done (something American actors often have trouble with), only exaggerated and embarrassing when they are SUPPOSED to be (since the whole point of the play is that the “hero” becomes a stage Irishman at the end).
Best of all is Roberta Maxwell’s performance as Sarah Melody. This lovely Canadian actress captures the passion and pain of one of O’Neill’s greatest female characters, and even as one empathizes with her sorrow, one also triumphs in her victory against the “pale bitch” so effectively portrayed by Carrie Nye. At the end of the play, she has gotten everything she ever wanted–and lost everything that ever mattered. There was supposed to be a cycle of plays about the Melodys, but this is the only one that O’Neill put the finishing touches on. It is easily one of the ten greatest American plays. And one can only feel sorry for any blaguard who can’t see that. ” (From IMDB)
2.06GB | 2h 22m | 698×538 | mkv