A DELICATE BALANCE (Tony Richardson, 1973)

“We’re not a communal nation, dear; giving, but not sharing, outgoing, but not friendly.” — Claire, well-named, in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance   After Ingmar Bergman turned him down,* playwright Edward Albee chose Tony Richardson to direct A Delicate Balance for Ely Landau’s American Film Theater series. The 1966 tragicomedy had won Albee the […]

MARY OF SCOTLAND (John Ford, 1936)

In addition to being a great actress, Katharine Hepburn was one of the most beautiful women to appear on-screen; and nowhere else is she quite so beautiful as she is in Mary of Scotland, based on Maxwell Anderson’s play, where (following Helen Hayes, for whom the part had been written) she plays Scotland’s ill-fated Mary […]

THE TROJAN WOMEN (Mihalis Kakogiannis, 1971)

Resonating in its own time as an indictment of the ugly, brutal U.S. intervention in Vietnam, The Trojan Women is Greek filmmaker Mihalis Kakogiannis/Michael Cacoyannis’s faithful rendering of Euripedes’ play about the aftermath of the fall of Troy into Greek hands—from the perspective of the ruined city’s women, who are led by Queen Hecuba, now […]

THE LION IN WINTER (Anthony Harvey, 1968)

Ungainly to the point of being anti-rhythmic, poorly written while incessantly congratulating itself for lofty wit, ineptly acted by leads and near-leads, The Lion in Winter will forever be remembered as the mess that scandalized and undid the New York Film Critics Circle. (When this god-awful piece of trash won the group’s best English-language film […]

SUMMERTIME (David Lean, 1955)

David Lean’s touristy Summertime, adapted from Arthur Laurents’s play The Time of the Cuckoo, cancels almost everything it gives us, with this bit overturning that bit. The finale is one place where this odd procedure works: American secretary Jane Hudson, on holiday in Venice, capitulates to martyrdom and moralism by abandoning her married Venetian lover, […]