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Biography - Tennessee Williams: Wounded Genius (A&E DVD Archives) (2005)

 NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007WFUDS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,142 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The classic works of Tennessee Williams have earned him a reputation as one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th century. Now BIOGRAPHY-® paints an in-depth portrait of the famed writer and the personal problems that both plagued his life and inspired his masterworks. Williams first found sanctuary from his famously dysfunctional family by writing them as characters into his stories. Personal issues such as his constant need for companionship were manifested in his remarkably unique body of work which was laded with controversial themes of sexuality. Yet even after finding success with such hits as The Glass Menagerie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Streetcar Named Desire Williams began an irreversible downfall spiraling into a substance-abusing depression. Featuring interviews with Williams his brother biographers and friends this fascinating comprehensive program sheds light on the life of a tormented genius. DVD Features: Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big On The Drugs, A Bit Thin On The Plays March 21, 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
On this A & E video bio of Tennessee Williams, there's plenty of talk of his drinking and drug-taking and sleeping around. There's not much on the plays, just snippets of the highly salacious trailers (of the movies made from them), and almost no analysis. Few clips of Tennessee's wonderful interviews are included, except a snippet of the Davis Frost show when he walks on drunk and a few others.
Interviews with the playwights' brother Dakin, biographers Lyle Leverich and Donald Spoto, old friend and minor writer Donald Windham, actor Eli Wallach, actress Kim Hunter and a few others appear and try their best, but aren't allowed to say very much. Williams later-life problems are put down to drinking, and no mention is made of the tremendous pounding he took from the anti-gay press of his day, even at the top of his success in the fifties. Only Kim Hunter is allowed to say at the end of the tape that, since Tennessee's death, his later plays which were so roundly denounced in the American press (but not the European) are now finally getting their due.
There was a wonderful documentary that PBS put out a few years ago on its American Masters series that dealt with all these issues: the plays, the success, the hostility, and included interviews with admiring fellow-writers (Gore Vidal, Edward Albee) and actors who were allowed to say more about the plays (including Hunter again); A & E's bio is a rather superficial work by comparison. PBS should issue their bio as a tape/DVD; every Williams fan would buy it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-done bio of Thomas Lanier ('Tennessee') Williams January 6, 2010
I'm familiar with many of the film adaptations of Tennessee Williams' works and recently saw BABY DOLL (1956) (didn't care for it), his only actual screenplay, but knew little of this playwright/poet's life.

For example, until A&E's TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: WOUNDED GENIUS, I wasn't aware that THE GLASS MENAGERIE was a screenplay rejected in 1941 by MGM that Williams turned into his first Broadway success or that "Menagerie" and SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER were based in part on Tennessee's family life.

In "Suddenly," young Catherine Holly's Aunt Violet wants to have her lobotomized to keep the girl from telling anyone how and especially WHY Violet's son died. In real life, Tennessee's mother forced his beloved older sister Rose to undergo this mind-altering surgery. For the rest of her institutionalized life Rose was in the writer's opinion, "tranquil" and very much a zombie.

In this 48-minute documentary, a rare audio recording is heard of Marlon Brando in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. There's also a stage soundbite of "Glass Menagerie." Brief excerpts of films are shown, but the focus here is on the "wounded genius" himself, thus discussion of personal excesses and destructive behaviors are unavoidable.

We see one famous clip where Williams, who's just been released from rehab, appears quite drunk in a David Frost interview. He even declares his sobriety in a slurry, fey manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tennessee Williams bio review October 10, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This was a fascinating story of the man behind the plays we so much enjoy reading. It saddened me to see how harsh the critics had become toward him during his later years. This biography also reminds us to be kind to our children; actually, be kind to all! It also serves as a warning of what alcohol can do to one's career and mind.
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4.0 out of 5 stars perfect pre-read video March 3, 2013
By shannon
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This biography is a wonderful way to start a lesson on any Tennessee Williams play. Would pair perfectly with The Glass Menagerie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Genius Named Tennessee July 15, 2011
By Tee
This dvd, originally a 1998 episode of the television series "Biography", gets five stars mainly becauase of the snippets of rare newsreel and television interview footage of Tennessee Williams, and for the comments by several individuals who knew him personally. It's main problem is being far too short to fully cover his life and career, surely Williams deserved the "special" two-hour format that is only occasionally given to profiled subjects. This program is, however, well done and sympathetic to Williams and if it passes over periods of his life and his triumphs a little too quickly, it's all covered as best as one could hope for in an hour format. A highpoint of the dvd are several clips from an 1981 interview special program made by a New Orleans television station which looks to be the best television interview Williams ever did; what a shame that whole program wasn't included as a bonus feature. Hopefully, one day it will surface as a dvd release of it's own. Despite some misgivings, this is an excellent abbreviated overview of the life and career of America's greatest playwright.
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