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The American Film Theatre 14 Film Collection (AFT Megaset) (DVD)

Available Date : 07/01/2008
Release Year : 1975
Running Time : 95
UPC : 738329061821
Country : U.S., U.S. and Europe
Language: English
Subject : Performing Arts, Literature, German Cinema & Culture, European History, Philosophy, Music
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The American Film Theatre 14 Film Collection (AFT Megaset)

With many films now transplanted to the Broadway stage and vice versa, it is easy to forget how remarkable a project The American Film Theatre was at its conception; utilizing the great artists of our time, this relevant series not only offered theatre to those who did not have access to stage productions, but appealed to lovers of both art forms. A unique time capsule that captures some of the finest performers of the 20th century.

 

Contains:
Three Sisters
Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
Lost in the Stars
Galileo
A Delicate Balance
Butley
The Homecoming
The Iceman Cometh
In Celebration
Luther
The Maids
The Man in the Glass Booth
Rhinoceros
Philadelphia, Here I Come!

Three Sisters

Nearly a thousand miles away from their beloved Moscow, Chekhov's Three Sisters live in virtual exile. Olga (Jeanne Watts), a schoolmistress, attempts to support her siblings and the home that is the sole legacy of their late army officer father. Masha (Joan Plowright) finds relief from her empty marriage in an affair with a passionate young colonel, played by Alan Bates (Gosford Park, The Cherry Orchard, In Celebration). Irina (Louise Pernell), the youngest, wills herself to return the affections of an ardent suitor in the hopes that he will whisk her off to the city before it is too late. Intoxicated by yesterday's triumphs and heedless of tomorrow's disasters, the Three Sisters are left to sift through the debris of their shattered dreams on the eve of the social and political upheaval that will transform Russia forever.

Stepping behind the camera for the first time since 1957's The Princess and the Showgirl, director Laurence Olivier demonstrates the same facility for cinematic expression that made his filmed versions of Hamlet and Henry V so definitive. In Olivier's assuredly brisk, graceful, meticulous, and witty rendering of Chekhov's masterpiece, the sisters are doomed to remain in their provincial purgatory. Olivier shepherds the cast of National Theater of London members (including Olivier himself and I Claudius star Derek Jacobi, in one of his first screen roles) through a compelling drama that never stoops to cliche. Photographed by ace British lensman Geoffrey Unsworth (2001: A Space Odyssey, Tess), Olivier and his cast propel Chekhov's play into a film that the New York Times' Vincent Canby acclaimed as "something quite rare."

Rhinoceros

Reunited for the only time after their triumph in Mel Brooks' The Producers, Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel catapult their shared genius for elegant slapstick, manic wit, and sly satire to a level of fearless absurdity that virtually no other comedy team would dare approach. Director Tom O'Horgan, originator of the Broadway smash hit Hair, transforms playwright Eugene Ionesco's "Theater of the Absurd" curio Rhinoceros into a fluid, character-rich screen comedy that The Hollywood Reporter dubbed, "an excellent film."

In the face of a modern urban life devoid of anything but an uninterrupted parade of dehumanizing compromise and disappointment, Stanley (Wilder) tenuously guards his fragile individuality in between gulps of booze. The only solace he enjoys is commiseration with his self-consciously sophisticated neighbor John (Mostel), and his unspoken adoration of a warmly sympathetic co-worker Daisy (70s cult object Karen Black). But as a surreal comic apocalypse begins to transform, one by one, everyone into a rhinoceros, the non-conformism that seemed like Stanley's downfall may be his only salvation.

Re-creating the role he originated on stage, Mostel delivers the most jaw-droppingly bravura performance of his career, playing off both Wilder's and his own incredulous terror as the fussy, prissy John metamorphoses (entirely without make-up or camera tricks) into a bellowing rhinoceros. Mostel, Wilder, and Black's generous characterizations and pitch-perfect comic timing streamline Rhinoceros's convulsive outrageousness into an ardent valentine to both knockabout screen comedy and Ionesco's experimental and timely satire.

The Maids

Jean Genet, one of the most celebrated creative minds of the 20th century, receives an unbridled, expertly cinematic rendering in this long unseen film based on his perverse play. The Maids' volatile mixture of class confrontation, Freudian passion and criminal mischief frames an acid-etched portrait of two sisters whose hatred and desire twist their tortured lives together into a relentless downward spiral of guilt, degradation, and freedom at any cost.

Glenda Jackson (A Touch of Class) and Susannah York (A Man For All Seasons) play Solange and Claire, Paris maids who tend to cruel socialite Madame's (Vivien Merchant) unending domestic needs. Whenever Madame is away, the sisters obsessively act out a complex role-playing psychodrama of domination and control that feeds their powerful lust for revenge upon the haughty, disdainful mistress they serve. But after falsely denouncing Madame's lover to the police, Solange and Claire's shared terror of arrest and the unchecked aggression with which they increasingly infuse their "ceremony" threaten to destroy them even as they perch on the threshold of ecstatic release.

Director Christopher Miles (A Time For Loving) and legendary cinematographer Douglas Slocombe (Julia, Raiders of the Lost Ark) focus Genet's heady theatricallity into a riveting and dynamic cinematic experience. In a world where the lines are drawn between mistress, servant, confession, accusation, degradation, redemption, murder, and suicide become as fragile as French lace, the fatal truth remains that, "naturally, maids are guilty when madams are innocent."

Luther

Stacy Keach, as German cleric Martin Luther, miraculously breathes life and intimacy into one of the most famous social revolutionaries and theological firebrands in world history. Directed by former cinematographer Guy Green, Luther's graceful camerawork explodes the restricting theatrical proscenium without violating the unity of John Osbourne's (Look Back in Anger) original play.

Luther compresses nearly two decades into a provocative character study that parallels Martin Luther's deepening religious dilemmas with the irresolvable earthly anxieties that shaped his beliefs and his rebellious search for truth. We're introduced to Luther as a young monk in 1506, as he defends his vows to his jealous and disapproving father (Patrick McGee). But as Luther's religious commitment deepens, his faith in an increasingly commercialized, politicized, and spiritually empty Papacy atrophies until, having preached against the medieval Catholic Church's hypocrisy, he is called to account by the very bishops he must denounce.

Keach's Luther is backed by a powerful supporting cast, including Kubrick stalwart Leonard Rossiter, and Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat) as the nun Luther takes for his wife. In Luther, Martin Luther's condemnation of the Catholic Church and incitement fo the Protestant reformation become the last desperate acts of a brilliant but deeply troubled man of conscience who has run out of options.

In Celebration

Utilizing the same brilliant cast as In Celebration's original highly acclaimed Royal Court Theater run, director Lindsay Anderson (O Lucky Man, If) re-imagines his stage triumph into a riveting cinematic experience. Anderson grounds David Storey's ferocious and poignant drama in a setting that as realistic as the playwright's caustic portrait of generational hypocrisy is universal.

In their tiny house in a Yorkshire mining town, God-fearing and hardworking Mr. and Mrs. Shaw (Bill Owen and Constance Chapman) welcome their sons home to celebrate the couple's fortieth wedding anniversary. But with each son's arrival, more and more of the Shaw's model blue collar family facade begins to chip away. Middle son Colin's (James Bolam) engagement has placed him on the path to a loveless marriage. Barely shouldering the burdens of his shattered artisitic aspirations and his own family, Steven, the baby, brilliantly played by Brian Cox (Manhunter, 25th Hour), is on the threshold of a nervous breakdown. But the toaster tossed into this already scalding theatrical bath is Alan Bates (Georgy Girl, The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters) as eldest son Andrew. As father, mother, and brothers futiley try to hide the truth from themselves and each other, Bates' Andrew tears into the Shaw family's carefully maintained fictions with animal fury and all-too-human bitterness.

Anderson's spare and elegant direction grants his ensemble the space to collide and retreat even within the cramped confines of the Shaw's collier's cottage. In Anderson's sensitive hands, In Celebration becomes the visionary antithesis of John Ford's How Green Was My Valley and a cautionary yet inspiring tableau of a modern family living at a medieval level of disharmony.

The Homecoming

In North London, an all-male beehive of inactivity is ruled with a foul mouth and an iron hand by the abusive Max (Paul Rogers) and his brother, the priggish palace eunuch Sam (Cyril Cusack). Rounding out the precision vulgarity of The Homecoming's "situation tragedy" are the sons, punch-drunk demolition man Joey (Terence Rigby) and the magnificient Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings, The Sweet Hereafter) as pimp-smart Lenny. When, under cover of darkness, the prodigal son Teddy (Michael Jayston) brings his wife Ruth (Vivien Merchant) home to meet his family for the first time, he gets far more and less than he bargained for. To Teddy's rueful discomfort, Ruth's Mona Lisa smile forms the gateway to a labyrinth of Freudian dread, venal family values, and naked neediness that could only come from the mind of Harold Pinter.

Director Sir Peter hall re-renders his original Royal Shakespeare Company London stage triumph as a bleached, claustrophobic delirium that exploits the jagged tempos and seductive tensions of Pinter's best play as no theater staging could. The New York Times declared the American Film Theatre's production of The Homecoming, "a movie of astonishing dynamism." Indeed, director Atom Agoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) went so far as to say, "I often find myself seeking solace from this film. Its poetry and twisted sense of compassion and humor have assuaged many moments of despair and confusion. Other people have religion, I have my copy of The Homecoming."

Butley

On any given day Ben Butley, a self-made train wreck of an English Literature professor at a London university, can shrug off everyone and everything with equal ease. But today, the disaster of Butley's proudly misspent life threatens to dwarf even his cynically fatalistic non-expectations. Arriving at his cramped cave of an office, Butley is informed that his adored Joey is moving in with another man, his estranged wife is re-marrying, and his seemingly untalented colleague has been published ahead of him.

As embodied by Alan Bates, Butley falls back on the surgically precise wit and savage eloquence that helped put him in his current circumstances in the first place. The blitzkrieg of vitriolic commentary with which Butley engages lovers, students, rivals, and allies, all with equal ferocity, becomes a glass bottom boat illuminating the churning depths of his bankrupted soul. Acclaimed playwright Harold Pinter, in what Time Magazine hailed as "a quite superior directorial debut," turns author Simon Gray's single-set, dialogue driven stage play into an irresistible dynamic visual experience that tracks Bates' hilarious and fearless performance with cunning precision.

Bates and an expert supporting cast, including Oscar® winner Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy), joust with a sly, self-referencing wit and an unselfconscious exuberance that is breathtaking. With every verbal parry and valedictory flourish of wordplay, Butley's life becomes more of an inescapable bear trap of thwarted ambition, clandestine affection, and squandered brilliance.

A Delicate Balance

Oscar-winner Katharine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story, The Lion in Winter), Oscar-winner Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons, Quiz Show), Oscar-nominee Lee Remick (Days of Wine and Roses), and Joseph Cotten (The Third Man) form the core of A Delicate Balance's miraculous, one-night-only dream cast. Acclaimed British director Tony Richardson (Tom Jones) allows these thoroughbreds to explore and discover the full range of conflict and confrontation in Edward Albee's (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) explosive WASP gothic with both appreciative generosity and masterful control.

Agnes (Hepburn), as domineering and sarcastic as her husband Tobias (Scofield) is equivocating and guarded, finds her empty Connecticut nest invaded. First, Claire, Agnes' alcoholic sister (the scene-stealingly brilliant Kate Reid), arrives to bitterly spar with her more stable sibling. Then, Agnes and Tobias' luckless in love daughter Julia (Remick) returns home on the heels of yet another failed marriage. But the fuse on this upper-middle class powder keg comes in the form of friends Harry (Cotten) and Edna (Betsy Blair), who appear on the doorstep seeking shelter from an ephemeral emotional cave-in that has left them terrified, for reasons they can't name, of being alone.

Harry and Edna's solace becomes Agnes and Tobias' undoing as two generations raised to need love, not to give it, and who use language to dissect truth and feeling, not to share it, turn first to each other -- then against each other. Albee's musically attuned dialogue is showcased with a sensitivity and savagery that Richardson's intimately filmed visualization focuses on with unflinching clarity. As each self-blinded character ignores the achingly bared soul of the others, Albee's living room demolition derby leaves no one intact.

Galileo

Fiddler on the Roof's Topol and a wish-list cast of British theatrical aristocracy, including Sir John Gielgud (Arthur, Becket), Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange), Edward Fox (The Day of the Jackal), and Tom Conti (Reuben, Reuben), ground Bertolt Brecht's famous theatrical imagination in a precise, character-rich interpretation of the troubled life and anxious times of 17th century physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei. Under director Joseph Losey (who originated the American stage version of Galileo in 1947), The American Film Theatre's Galileo focuses on Brecht's characteristic mosaic of theatricality and immediacy into a personalized and keenly cinematic drama that pits public responsibility against private doubt.

Challenged by a new student, tutor and theorist Galileo co-opts emerging telescope technology and discovers irrefutable proof of the heretical notion that the earth is not the center of the universe. But in a rigid society ruled by an uneasy alliance of aristocracy and clergy already undermined by the Plague and the Reformation, science is a threat and enlightenment is a luxury. Faced with either death at the hands of the Inquisition or recantation to a hypocritical but all-powerful Papacy, Galileo must choose between his own life and the restless scientific curiosity that he has spurned family, friends, and wealth to pursue.

In Galileo, director Losey (Eva, The Go-Between, The Servant), an exile of the Hollywood blacklist himself, creates a uniquely affecting portrait of discovery, heresy, compromise, and exile. Neither coward nor hero, Brecht's Galileo reveals the troubling human side of the struggle between science, government, and religion.

Lost in the Stars

The American Film Theatre's Lost in the Stars transforms Alan Paton's world-famous novel of racial oppression, Cry the Beloved Country, into a tragic and beautiful film musical unlike any you've ever seen. Gilded by Maxwell Anderson's lucid lyrics and Kurt Weill's (The Three Penny Opera) powerful music, and guided by Daniel Mann's (Playing for Time) sensitive direction, this one-of-a-kind film is both a heartbreaking indictment of a cruel society and a poetic testament to the millions of forgotten lives ground beneath the heel of apartheid.

Brock Peters (To Kill a Mockingbird) is Stephen Kumalo, a black South African minister searching the unfamiliar back alleys and shantytowns of Johannesburg for his son, Absalom. But Kumalo's unwavering faith is put to the test when he finds Absalom in jail facing a capital murder charge. Courage, dignity, and sacrifice fall prey to the whirlwind of racist hypocrisy and hollow justice in Absalom's trial. Absalom's reunion and reconciliation with her father, his jailhouse marriage to his pregnant sweetheart Irina (Melba Moore), and his heroic determination to tell the truth no matter the cost set the stage for a tragic climax of both epic proportion and documentary immediacy.

Peters, whom Weill declared, "one of the great voices of American theatre," delivers a flawlessly moving performance. Singing the title song, "Lost in the Stars," in an empty church to which he will never return, Kumalo's agony offers spiritual richness in place of poverty and human grace in place of prejudice, even as his heart becomes another casualty of vicious ethnic hatred.

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Eschewing conventional narrative, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris transforms Mort Shuman and Eric Blau's beloved 35-song stage revue into an infectious movie musical that showcases both Brel's astonishing songwriting breadth and the resourceful audacity of 70's filmmaking. Belgian born Brel's richly sensual, uncompromising and lyrical songs provide a simultaneously ecstatic and tragic framework for this flamboyant and moving film. Director Denis Heroux utilizes everything from puppetry to location photography to shepherd Brel's music far beyond the proscenium-bound horizon.

Working from the surreal imagery and concrete emotions with which Brel laced his lyrics, songwriter Mort Shuman (himself co-creator of some of the most memorable hit songs for the Drifters and Elvis Presley) transforms Brel's French chansons into lushly romantic yet unsentimental English language versions. Shuman, Elly Stone, and Joe Masiell give voice to Brel's tangos and boleros in an explosion of settings that are inexhaustibly imaginative and intimate. But the true showstopper offers Brel himself singing his signature, "Ne Me Quitte Pas," in a sequence that ranks as one of the most powerfully understated and sincere musical performances ever put on film.

From the vitriolic anti-war accusations of "Au Suivant" ("Next") to the achingly real "Chanson des Vieux Amours" ("Song of the Old Lovers"), Brel foments protest without preaching, celebrates tragedy without sinking to despair and offers insight without shunning emotion. Kino's presentation of AFT's Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris is proof of this celebrated modern troubadour's timeless relevance and enduring passion.

Philadelphia, Here I Come!

Set in playwright Brian Friel's (Dancing at Lughnasa, Faith Healer) mythical Ballybeg, Ireland, The American Film Theatre's Philadelphia, Here I Come! presents an ingenious glimpse into the stock-taking of young Gareth "Gar" O'Donnell on the eve of his emigration to America. Through the myriad preparations and good-byes that fill Gar's last day in Ireland, comes a powerful portrait of the public boasts and private doubts that bedevil him on the threshold of his journey to a new life in a new land.

Friel contrasts Gar's cloistered emotional life with his gregarious social persona by portraying him as two distinct characters, a public self (Donal McCann) and a private self (Des Cave). As public Gar energetically goes about his rounds, private Gar voices the anger, and sadness, "the loneliness, the groping," that has positioned him between a loveless youth and an unknown future. As the two sides of Gar spar over their shared past and we meet the people that have inclined him towards a two-faced life, the difference between emigration and exile begins to blur.

Gar's surrogate mother Madge (Siobhan McKenna, Doctor Zhivago), his speechless, affectionless father (Eamon Kelly), and most importantly Gar's ex-fiancée Kate (Fidelma Murphy) all provide inadvertent testimony to the fear and longing that have already separated Gar from his community, his family, his heart, and ultimately from himself. AFT's Philadelphia, Here I Come! is a soulful backward glance at a life as yet un-lived and a heart as yet un-loved on the threshold of escape to, "a vast restless place that doesn't give a damn about the past."

Product Extras :

With many films now transplanted to the Broadway stage and vice versa, it is easy to forget how remarkable a project The American Film Theatre was at its conception; utilizing the great artists of our time, this relevant series not only offered theatre to those who did not have access to stage productions, but appealed to lovers of both art forms. A unique time capsule that captures some of the finest performers of the 20th century.

This "Thinpak" case contains all 14 plays from the AFT series.

UV Canada Link : https://unobstructedview.com/american-film-theater-complete-14-film-collection-the-iceman-cometh-a-delicat-kin061821-web.html

The American Film Theatre 14 Film Collection (AFT Megaset)

Three Sisters

  • Laurence Olivier - Director
  • Anton Chekhov - Writer
  • Alan Bates - Actor
  • Laurence Olivier - Actor
  • Joan Plowright - Actor
  • Derek Jacobi - Actor
  • Jean Watts - Actor

Rhinoceros

  • Tom O'Horgan - Director
  • Eugene Ionesco - Writer
  • Karen Black - Actor
  • Zero Mostel - Actor
  • Gene Wilder - Actor
  • Ely Landau - Producer

The Maids

  • Christopher Miles - Director
  • Vivien Merchant - Actor
  • Susannah York - Actor
  • Glenda Jackson - Actor
  • Douglas Slocombe - Cinematographer

Luther

  • Guy Green - Director
  • Patrick Magee - Actor
  • Hugh Griffith - Actor
  • Judi Dench - Actor
  • Alan Badel - Actor
  • Stacy Keach - Actor
  • Freddie Young - Cinematographer
  • Ely Landau - Producer

In Celebration

  • Lindsay Anderson - Director
  • David Storey - Writer
  • Alan Bates - Actor
  • James Bolam - Actor
  • Constance Chapman - Actor
  • Bill Owen - Actor
  • Brian Cox - Actor
  • Ely Landau - Producer

The Homecoming

  • Peter Hall - Director
  • Harold Pinter - Writer
  • Vivien Merchant - Actor
  • Cyril Cusack - Actor
  • Ian Holm - Actor
  • Terence Rigby - Actor
  • Ely Landau - Producer

Butley

  • Harold Pinter - Director
  • Jessica Tandy - Actor
  • Alan Bates - Actor

A Delicate Balance

  • Tony Richardson - Director
  • Edward Albee - Writer
  • Joseph Cotten - Actor
  • Lee Remick - Actor
  • Paul Scofield - Actor
  • Katharine Hepburn - Actor

Galileo

  • Joseph Losey - Director
  • Bertolt Brecht - Writer
  • Michael Gough - Actor
  • Edward Fox - Actor
  • Colin Blakely - Actor
  • Topal - Actor

Lost in the Stars

  • Daniel Mann - Director
  • Raymond St. Jacques - Actor
  • Clifton Davis - Actor
  • Melba Moore - Actor
  • Brock Peters - Actor
  • Ely Landau - Producer

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

  • Denis Heroux - Director
  • Eric Blau - Writer
  • Jacques Brel - Writer
  • Joe Masiell - Actor
  • Mort Shuman - Actor
  • Elly Stone - Actor
  • Jacques Brel - Actor

Philadelphia, Here I Come!

  • John Quested - Director
  • Siobhan McKenna - Actor
  • Donal McCann - Actor

Reviews

"(Four stars)" - Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

"Rhinoceros is a fast paced, inventively realized film. Wilder and Mostel portray true feeling for each other better than any comedy team I've ever seen." - David Rosenbaum, The Boston Phoenix

"Stacy Keach is brilliant" - Kevin Kelly, The Boston Globe

"One of the best pictures of the year." - The Denver Post
"Anderson and a a superb cast have made a harrowing and satisfying suspense drama." - New York Magazine
"The Homecoming almost cried out to be filmed and the AFT has come through." - Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times
"An extraordinary success...a devilishly entertaining piece and showpiece for Alan Bates" - Stanley Eichelbaum, The San Francisco Examiner
"A superlative record of Albee's play, enthrallingly brought to the screen." - Stanley Eichelbaum, The San Francisco Examiner

"Taste, class and a first-rate cast...Landau and Losey have brought off an admirable film." - Variety

"Stunning in its simplicity...haunting music here splendidly done." - Emerson Batdorff - The Cleveland Plain-Dealer

Brock Peters is outstanding...his ending scene is a triumph." - Atlanta Jounal Constitution

"Infected with spirit...bitingly relevant" - Variety

For press and publicity inquiries, please email [email protected]. A selection of press materials for this title may be available for download here.

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