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A Delicate Balance [VHS] (1973)

Katharine Hepburn , Paul Scofield , Tony Richardson  |  PG |  VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield, Lee Remick, Kate Reid, Joseph Cotten
  • Directors: Tony Richardson
  • Writers: Edward Albee
  • Producers: Ely A. Landau, Robert A. Goldston
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • VHS Release Date: July 22, 2003
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009MEJ7
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,730 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Edward Albee's classic.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
There was a period in her career when Katharine Hepburn seemed to be making a point of making movies of plays by some of the world's greatest dramatists. While she only performed Shakespeare on the stage, she filmed plays by Tennessee Williams ("Suddenly Last Summer"), Euripides ("Trojan Women"), and most notably Eugene O'Neill ("Long Day's Journey Into Night"), in which she gave her greatest dramatic performance. Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" would be thrown into this mix as well, but all things considered this is a smaller play and a smaller film.
Albee won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1966 play "A Delicate Balance," and he does the screenplay here as well. There are those who see this particular play as a second-rate "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" which truthfully surprises me because I see little in common between the two plays. Albee's earliest and obviously greatest work was at its heart a dramatic rejoinder to Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh," and a statement about the importance of fantasy when confronted with a harsh world. "A Delicate Balance" is about the angst of contemporary living, and while this might be a counterpoint of sorts to "Virginia Woolf" it is most definitely not rehashing the original argument.
Hepburn's name appears first in the credits and her character of Agnes opens and ends the play, but ultimately she is not one of the pivotal characters in the drama. The play begins with Agnes and Tobias (Paul Scofield), enjoying what passes for a quiet evening at home, which includes an encounter with her heavy-drinking sister Claire (Kate Reid). Whereas Agnes speaks to the long-suffering Tobias, Claire actually engages the man in conversation.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Acting Indeed July 28, 2003
The acting is phemonmenal in this play, and the play itself is one of Albee's best. It does suffer, however, from being a bit stagy as a film. A deeper (and perhaps insoluble) problem is that film (a very realistic medium) is not really suited for this work, which while being wonderfully written and deeply insightful is hardly realistic. I don't fault the director necessarily; it's more that this particular work is simply not nor never will be cinematic.
The extras are quite good; however, there's a bug on the Kino menus. When you try to access the Tom Stoppard interview or the other extras from the menu, the disc stops playing. In order to see them, you have to change title number via your remote.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fear of getting old January 15, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
What can I say? Katharine Hepburn on a bad day was better than most actresses on a good day. Other reviewers have indicated that this is not her best, but it is a solid performance.

This film is a special American Film Theater performance of Edward Albee's award winning play. The original stage play won a Pulitzer Prize. It has a cast of six, all of whom give good performances. Katharine Hepburn plays Agnes and Paul Scofield plays Tobias, an upper class New England couple planning a quiet Friday evening at home, or at least as quiet as it can be with the presence of Agnes's sister Claire (played by Kate Reid), a woman who drinks too much and speaks her mind.
It is a psychological drama about people getting old and dealing with their fears.

The evening is interrupted by the arrival of their best friends, Harry (played by Joseph Cotton)and his wife Edna (played by Betsy Blair). They were suddenly afraid to stay at home. They thought of their club, but came to visit Tobias and Agnes instead. They end up staying the night and are given the room of Julia, the daughter of Tobias and Agnes, who is living with her latest husband.

The next day Julia (played by Lee Remick) arrives home, leaving her latest husband behind and seeking the security of her own room. She is disturbed to find that Harry and Edna are occupying her room. She is given Tobias' room, and he has to sleep in Agnes' room, something he apparently has not done in quite a while. When it appears that Harry and Edna might be leaving, it turns out that they are only going home briefly to get their luggage. This leads to Julia having hysterics and threatening Harry and Edna, wanting them to leave so she can have the security of her own room.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Intelligent and Challenging November 9, 2005
I saw this film in 1973 and loved it so much that I ran out and purchased the soundtrack - yes, there was a soundtrack released. It came in a three-record boxed set, and it included every single word of the screenplay. I then bought a copy of the play (which was slightly different from the screenplay) and read it and listened to the record until I had memorized a good deal of the dialogue. You see, I love the English language, and there are few things more joyful to me than encountering a book, play or movie that uses language in clever ways. This is why I am a great fan of Broadway lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Screenwriter James Goldman (who wrote Lion in Winter), Simon Gray (who wrote Butley, and whose use of the language rivals Albee's here) and the plays of Edward Albee. Mr. Albee uses language in ways that few others can. For some reason I don't understand, few people can seem to mention A Delicate Balance without referring to a certain play that Mr. Albee's also wrote, which was far more sensational and extremely successful. And that's a real pity, for this work stands quite well on its own.

Tobias and Agnes are an upper-class couple nearing retirement in their comfortable Connecticut home. Their best friends, Harry and Edna, arrive for a visit one evening, driven from their home by an unnamed terror. Albee's play clearly spells out what the terror is, without attaching a precise name to it - it's the fear of growing older in an uncertain world, rather like the main theme (which many people missed) in James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim's brilliant musical, Follies. Of course, Tobias and Agnes must take their dear friends in, thus threatening the "delicate balance" that holds the routine of their lives together.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars all is good-thanks!
all is good--thanks!
Published 3 days ago by Robert R. Rees
5.0 out of 5 stars A great piece of theater
I am not a fan of Katharine Hepburn, but she is the perfect actress for this part, and does a fantastic job. The rest of the cast (and the director) have nailed it, in my opinion. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ivan Skavar
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting film version of A Delicate Balance, casting, acting,...
Establishes the virtue of film theatre as a genre. Serious theatre of high calibre made accessible - brilliantly and sensitively directed for film and made the more memorable and... Read more
Published 16 months ago by DR J J L DE SOUZA
2.0 out of 5 stars Decidedly dull
"A Delicate Balance" is categorically dull. I assume this is a play that works well on stage, when the actors are living and breathing in front of you. Read more
Published on March 4, 2011 by Box
5.0 out of 5 stars A special cast captured in time
So glad these particular performers were chosen for this before they were gone, as they each had so much of life's experience by then themselves that they so capably expressed. Read more
Published on January 15, 2011 by PBS Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delicate Balance
The Grand Dame Katharine lights up the screen in this classic. I would order from this company again, although I think it was a bit overpriced for Amazon. Read more
Published on March 22, 2010 by Lawrence J. Ukolowicz
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings
This is a study of interpersonal relationships in an unrealistic setting. Pintar-like. It's definitely for the afficianado of the theater. Unlike Albee's other works. Read more
Published on February 1, 2010 by Philip L. Kouchoukos
4.0 out of 5 stars About Hepburn and Kim Stanley
Yes, Kim Stanley WAS cast. At the time, Stanley was said to have had a terrible time with alcohol. Maybe Hepburn refused to work with her, or the production excutives decided she... Read more
Published on July 25, 2005 by James M. Shertzer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great play, good adaptation
I saw this film as a devoted follower of Edwards Albee's plays, as well as someone who usually greatly enjoys the films of Tony Richardson. Read more
Published on September 5, 2004 by profile
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