This week’s mystery movie was the 1973 American Film Theatre production of “The Iceman Cometh,” with Lee Marvin, Fredric March, Robert Ryan, Jeff Bridges, Bradford Dillman, Sorrell Booke, Hildy Brooks, Nancy Juno Dawson, Evans Evans, Martyn Green, Moses Gunn, Clifton James, John McLiam, Stephen Pearlman, Tom Pedi, George Voskovec, Don McGovern and Bart Burns. Photographed by Ralph Woolsey, production design by Jack Martin Smith, costume consultant Dorothy Jeakins, edited by Harold F. Kress, production supervisor Irving Temaner. For the American Film Theatre, Henry T. Weinstein, executive producer Edward Lewis, producer Ely Landau, directed by John Frankenheimer.
A special thanks to B.J. Merholz, who mentioned this film in a conversation several years ago.
Writing in the New York Times (Oct. 30, 1973), Nora Sayre said:
Just at the moment when many have been stripped of their national illusions — concerning the purity of government — Eugene O’Neill’s conviction that people cannot live without personal illusions comes through with a fresh tang of irony.
As a drama for any and every decade, “The Iceman Cometh,” which opened yesterday at selected theaters, stresses that human dignity depends on dreams, even deceptions. Perhaps this is an especially American trait; many Europeans seem able to survive with fewer fantasies than we do.
… Infinite care and thought and respect have been poured into this production. But the play doesn’t flourish in film form for one reason: even the simplest camerawork breaks the continuity. We’re supposed to see these people as one huddled mass, imprisoned together in the room they rarely leave, perpetually affected by one another’s words or presence. Inevitably, close-ups destroy that.
… So this isn’t the “Iceman” of your lifetime. And there will be many who can’t help recalling Jason Robards as Hickey; Robards is often regarded as the exclusive owner of that role. But the play is an inescapably great experience and that fact isn’t muffled by this film.
For Monday, we have a mystery gent. And no, he does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Moses Gunn.
For Tuesday, we have a mystery woman in a festive party hat.
Update: This is Evans Evans.
Brain Trust roll call: Norman Desmond (Monday’s mystery gent), Patrick (Monday’s mystery gent), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery gent) and Tucson Barbara (Monday’s mystery gent).
For Wednesday, Monday’s mystery guest has some mystery companions.
Update: This is Martyn Green, George Voskovec and Moses Gunn.
Update: This is Tom Pedi and Hildy Brooks.
Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (Tuesday’s mystery woman).
Update: This is Robert Ryan in his last film.
…. also a mystery gent in a newsboy cap.
Update: This is Jeff Bridges.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery guests) and Jenny M. (mystery movie and Monday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests).
For Friday ….
Update: This is Lee Marvin and Hildy Brooks.
… and also….
Update: This is Fredric March.
Brain Trust roll call: Tucson Barbara (mystery movie, Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Mary Mallory (mystery movie and Monday’s , Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Gary (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), Sue Slutzky (mystery movie and Monday’s, Tuesdays and Thursday’s mystery guests and some of Wednesday’s mystery guests), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Earl Boebert (Thursday’s mystery guest No. 1, wrong movie), Thom and Megan (mystery movie and all mystery guests) and L.C. (mystery movie).
And thanks, Benito, it is a great cast.