Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


“a little in love with death”
March 30, 2006 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Forty-nine published plays. Four Pulitzer Prizes. Three marriages. A suicide attempt. A celebrity for a father. A drug-addicted mother who blamed her habit on her son. A daughter estranged, a son who committed suicide. A Nobel Prize, the only ever awarded to an American playwright.
Eugene O'Neill from inside out: a documentary film for American Experience. More inside.
posted by matteo (16 comments total)

 
We see Robards biting into Hickey's climactic speech from "Iceman" and we are shattered. We watch in awe as Plummer delivers James Tyrone's speech about having sold out his talent years before and builds the rush of words to a kind of tragic howl, only to realize that the naked white truth of what he has said is simply too much to acknowledge without surrendering his soul completely. And he pulls back. He tries to shrug it off, put it back in the bottle. And just before the camera moves away, a kind of tremor ripples across Plummer's face. A flicker of pain so brief yet so profound, we know in an instant that it is too late to salvage that soul.



***

Artists find inspiration at O'Neill home
Foundation opening grounds up to painters, photographers, writers

***

O'Neill's papers at Beinecke
posted by matteo at 7:45 AM on March 30, 2006


Eugene jr.'s suicide note: "Never let it be said of O'Neill that he failed to finish a bottle".
posted by matteo at 7:46 AM on March 30, 2006


I'd heard of Eugene Jr.'s suicide, but I didn't realize what an accomplished scholar he was. Makes me want to go back and watch a production of "Death of a Salesman." Happy, indeed.

Thanks matteo.
posted by bardic at 7:53 AM on March 30, 2006


Best LDJIN ever...Philip Seymour Hoffman & Brian Dennehey.

First version I'd seen where the interaction of the two 'other' characters made the play.

Amazing.
posted by HTuttle at 7:59 AM on March 30, 2006


I've directed four O'Neill plays, and I'll always have a fondness for his scripts.

In the shows I directed, it seemed every character and most every line was cliche, yet it all came together fantastically. I know they weren't cliche when he wrote them, but they are now. Yet, the plays still stand tall.
posted by ewagoner at 8:04 AM on March 30, 2006


I'd heard of Eugene Jr.'s suicide, but I didn't realize what an accomplished scholar he was. Makes me want to go back and watch a production of "Death of a Salesman."

Um. DoaS is by Arthur Miller. :)
posted by dnash at 8:20 AM on March 30, 2006


Thanks for the great post, matteo, and for the heads up about this documentary. I missed the first airing, but it is running a few times over the weekend, yay!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:54 AM on March 30, 2006


I once sobbed through an (unabridged) production of Long Day's Journey Into Night at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Truly riveting play - one so painful he made Random House lock it in a vault for 25 years after his death (his widow later skirted this agreement). He gave the play to his wife on their 12th anniversary saying
I give you the original script of this play of old sorrow, written in tears and blood. A sadly inappropriate gift, it would seem, for a day celebrating happiness. But you will understand. I mean it as a tribute to your love and tenderness which gave me the faith in love that enable me to face my dead at last and write this play ­ write it with deep pity and understanding and forgiveness for all the four haunted Tyrones.
Powerful play.
posted by ao4047 at 9:53 AM on March 30, 2006


The New Yorker crowd back in the 20s werepretty dismissive of O'Neill. I remember a review of one of his plays that said, in essence, he's not a great playwright, but he's the only great playwright we've got.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:14 AM on March 30, 2006


AstroZombie, in the New York Magazine link they quote a Mary McCarthy snarky review of O'Neill
posted by matteo at 10:21 AM on March 30, 2006


I remember a very funny poem they printed about Dynamo. I used to know it by heart, but I have forgotten it, and can't seem to find it online anywhere.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on March 30, 2006


In the shows I directed, it seemed every character and most every line was cliche, yet it all came together fantastically. I know they weren't cliche when he wrote them, but they are now. Yet, the plays still stand tall.
posted by ewagoner


Yeah, Shakespeare's full of cliches, too.
posted by Floydd at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2006


Great post, and good heads up. Groovy.
posted by dejah420 at 2:12 PM on March 30, 2006


"... he's not a great playwright, but he's the only great playwright we've got."

That's actually pretty much how I feel about O'Neill. It's astonishing that someone who wrote so badly managed to write riveting, powerful, important plays *anyway*.
posted by kyrademon at 2:57 PM on March 30, 2006


I've been pushing my partner to read Long Day's Journey Into Night for a couple years (he also frequents MeFi, so I expect he'll see this, ha!) and now I've set TiVo to tape the documentary as extra incentive. Thanks, matteo. Great post.
posted by nuala at 3:31 PM on March 30, 2006


The PBS special was amazing. Highly recommended.
posted by stratastar at 9:01 AM on March 31, 2006


« Older The Internet Before its Time....  |  Sudden capricious friendship w... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments