Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical play is brought stunningly to the screen by director Lumet and his superb cast. Tracing the destructive interactions of an Irish-American family over a long summer’s day and night, the film is an illuminating study of familial hypocrisy and betrayal. The formidable cast includes Katherine Hepburn who dominates the screen with her portrayal of a mother addicted to morphine and unable to forgive her husband and her sons for the banality of her life, Ralph Richardson as the alcoholic father who uses his childhood experiences of poverty as a weapon against his children, Jason Robards Jr. is outstanding as the oldest son, “the failure” who has inherited his father’s alcoholism and a young Dean Stockwell is the melancholy poet, a character based on O’Neill himself. The play’s Freudian “revelations” may seem dated but the power of O’Neill’s writing is undiminished. This story of the corrosive emotional battles within a family is still shockingly relevant to a contemporary audience and so are the film’s thematic concerns with the psychological effects of migration and addiction.
Republic Pictures Corporation
Embassy Pictures Corporation (US)
Joseph E. Levine
Black and White