Here I am taking a break from the cinematic ramblings to celebrate my first love – literature. In my recent post on overrated things I listed Eugene O’Neill as one of the same. O’Neill is often regarded as America’s greatest playwright. As neither an American nor a playwright I suppose my words don’t hold much weight but I’m not a fan of O’Neill. When a think of American Drama I think of the Trinity – Albee, Williams, Miller. O’Neill...not so much. My first legitimate run-in with O’Neill was Long Day’s Journey into Night with Hepburn. But the first time I actually read any of his work was last January when I read “Desire Under the Elms”, “Strange Interlude” and “Mourning Becomes Electra”. I don’t like his style. This man can be seriously pedantic; sometimes he just drives me up the wall. And it’s not the theatrical nature of his dialogue either. I’m a big Tennessee Williams fan, but even I won’t say that his dialogue is realistic [Blanche, anyone] but it works in the content of Williams’ work. It doesn’t bode so well for O’Neill.
“Mourning Becomes Electra” is my favourite work of his, and that weaknesses of it are so obvious I can’t really say I love it. I've never seen the film version either. And, I’m yet to read “Anna Christie”, “The Iceman Cometh” and “A Moon For the Misbegotten” both start pleasantly enough...but I can’t seem to muster up the urge to finish reading them.
I’ve never understood why Miller is so undervalued though. When people here Miller they think “Death of A Salesman” or maybe, “The Crucible”. Both are good plays, but neither is my favourite from him. “A View From the Bridge” and “All My Sons” are my favourite Millers pieces. And yet neither have had important cinematic adaptations. There were some television adaptations of “All My Sons” and a film version sometime in the fifties. But I’ve never seen it and neither has anyone I know. Maybe I’m biased to “All My Sons” because I had to do it for a school – but although thematically it’s a bit creaky, it’s a good play. Both these films could make a killing in the acting categories.
Tennessee Williams though is popular with the Oscars – “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “The Roman Spring of Miss Stone”, “Night of the Iguana”, “The Rose Tattoo”, “Suddenly, Last Summer” are all his and all have gone on to Oscar nominations and wins. But I don’t know why “The Glass Menagerie” hasn’t been done for the screen. I think it may be a role even more baity than Blanche DuBois. Get Dianne Wiest, Annette Bening or Jessica Lange opposite James McAvoy or some other young star and this would be a major release. I’m just saying. Then there’s “Orpheus Descending”. It’s one of Williams’ earlier works and it’s not very popular. It actually has quite a few faults [for a Tennessee play] but it would make a good drama.
But what dramatic works are you aching to see put to film? Are you a fan of Eugene O’Neill or is drama not your thing?
And you better be voting...!!!