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Evening Primrose

36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The people are gone. The doors are locked. Darkness descends inside a department store. Fleeing the pressures of the outside world, an unhappy poet is at last alone. But not for long. In his newfound sanctuary, he comes across a group of hermits who have been hiding there for years. Among them is a young girl with whom he falls in love.

Specially created for television, Evening Primrose aired only once on ABC Stage 67. Starring Anthony Perkins and Charmian Carr, the production featured a teleplay adapted by James Goldman (from a short story by John Collier) and a score that included some of Stephen Sondheim’s most hauntingly beautiful songs – among them “I Remember” and “Take Me to the World.”

This long-lost treasure is now available for the first time ever – impeccably restored and re-mastered from a newly discovered, pristine kinescope print.

Newly recorded video interview with director Paul Bogart
Newly recorded audio interview with Charmian Carr
Paul Bogart’s full color test footage with Anthony Perkins
28-page booklet with contributions by Stephen Sondheim and Jane Klain of the Paley Center for Media

A rare television find, Evening Primrose is a 1966 musical that aired on ABC Stage 1967 and is most notable for its music and lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim. Anthony Perkins plays Charles, a poet who takes refuge from the outside world in a department store, only to find it already inhabited by a group of hermits called dark men. Among them is a young woman named Ella (Charmian Carr) who has lived in the store since the age of 6. She and Charles fall in love and try to leave the store, but find resistance from the store residents, led by Mrs. Monday (Dorothy Stickney) and Rosco Potts (Larry Gates). The 52-minute black-and-white program was based on a story by John Collier and adapted by James Goldman, and the four songs are distinctively Sondheim, early in his career but after his Broadway shows A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Anyone Can Whistle. The best song, "I Remember," became famous in Sondheim compilations and concerts, but many people first heard all four in a 1990 recording by Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. Perkins, a friend of Sondheim, isn't a great singer, but navigates the score well, showing why he was in the early discussions of casting for Company. And Carr, fresh off her role as Liesl in The Sound of Music, is appealing enough as the imperiled heroine. In 1973, Sondheim and Perkins collaborated to write the non-musical mystery movie The Last of Sheila --David Horiuchi

Special Features

Newly recorded video interview with director Paul Bogart Newly, recorded audio interview with Chamian Carr. Full color test footage with Anthony Perkins. Booklet with written contributions by Stephen Sondheim and Jane Klain of the Paley Center for Media.

Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Perkins, Dorothy Stickney, Larry Gates, Charmian Carr
  • Directors: Paul Bogart
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Restored, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: 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: Entertainment One
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0033HKCX2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,689 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Evening Primrose" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Neil Elliot on March 17, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Years ago a friend had a video tape of EVENING PRIMROSE complete with commercial breaks, etc. Now THAT was a find. His copy was probably 4th generation, but as I had seen it on t.v. when it was first shown, there was a good memory to be strengthened by whatever I saw in this copy. If, indeed, the filmmakers have been able to remaster and clean up this incredible "horror story with music", I'll be a happy camper. To watch Tony Perkin's first official foray into the musical world (or was GREENWILLOW before this?)acts as a reminder of his multifaceted talents. And having run from the Nazis in the film of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Charmian Carr finds herself in the clutches of the dark men. An excellent cast, terrific music and an important nod to Mr. Sondheims foundations.....

There are actually moments in the story where the music and the action bring about goosebumps and a pounding heart. Many have compared this John Collier story to the Twilight Zone 13TH FLOOR with Anne Francis, but I think it's much more frightening and sad, although the ending DOES allow the hero and the girl to become what they wished to be.

We've heard the music in many compilation albums, but now we can hear AND see the magic of this wonderfully mounted one act musical. Now, Collier estate, how about allowing a real stage presentation?
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By L. Solomon on October 13, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Quite a few decades ago, I was 17 years old and hanging out with my parents. STAGE 67 was, as I recall, a "summer replacement series".

There had been a few nicely done musicals for TV on this series, memorably a production of BRIGADOON with Robert Goulet and Peter Falk. My folks tuned in because the series was damn good television. We watched the broadcast on an enormous 17" B&W TV which was housed in an elaborate wooden console.

I do not recall if this was a taped production or live. I'll assume it was taped on 2" quad videotape which was state of the art at the time. But enough of TV 101.

The production lured me in and captivated. An early Sondheim fan, I found the music as haunting as the subject matter. It was the most sophisticated theatre broadcast I had ever seen.

For years I searched for a soundtrack recording. Later I searched for a VHS release. Around 2005, I "googled" (not sure if they were around yet) a search. I had long since forgotten the title and even considered that it might just have been a figment of my imagination.

Cross-referenceing Sondheim and TV, I got a title- EVENING PRIMROSE. Alas, I could find nothing more than a footnote- nary a script or production notes. I did learn that it was viewable at The Museum of Broadcasting. It remained one of those NYC visits I meant to do but never got around to. I'm a native New Yorker and I've never been to the Statue of Liberty.

A year ago I Googled again, and got a YOUTUBE link. I was delighted to find a few musical scenes. I realized that my obsession with this TV production was well founded. A complete air check still could not be found.

Yesterday I learned that a DVD was to be released from Amazon. I couldn't click fast enough.

Why all the hubub?
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James Morris on October 28, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Years ago, I was enchanted on first listen by a song from the score of Evening Primrose that appeared on a live concert album, Sondheim Evening: A Musical Tribute. The song was called I Remember. Although I had almost no knowledge of the story behind Evening Primrose, I somehow knew that the song was sung by the character of a young girl who had lived most of her life in a department store, and its haunting lyrics represented her struggle to place her early memories of the world in the context of her limited recent existence - "I remember sky, it was blue as ink, or at least I think, I remember sky. I remember snow, soft as feathers, sharp as thumbtacks, coming down like lint..." The hauntingly beautiful words and the stark horror of her situation blended for me then in a series of cold shudders and goose-bumps, and since that time (shortly after the debut of the original production of A Little Night Music, nearly 40 years ago), I have dreamed of having a chance to see the original TV production of Evening Primrose.

Evening Primrose, first and only once broadcast in 1966, was an early musical effort by Stephen Sondheim, master of the musical theatre of the 1970's and beyond. Of course, Mr. Sondheim had had earlier stage successes - West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - and a few famous flops -Anyone Can Whistle, a legendary show, and Do I Hear A Waltz, one of the few Sondheim scores I still can't listen to, even to this day. But this was Mr. Sondheim's first musical effort for television, and what I had not realized before was that Evening Primrose boasted a book by James Goldman, who also wrote the book for my favorite Sondheim musical, Follies, and the play that became my favorite film, The Lion in Winter.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 31, 2010
Format: DVD
In a TV world dominated by reality television, it's hard to imagine how an anthology series as daring as "ABC Stage 67" could ever survive these days. Even back then, a show that featured original hour-long musicals and dramas, as well as documentaries and variety specials, proved too daunting to viewers who liked getting familiar with their favorite TV characters and personalities. It only lasted a season, but there was one jewel in the program, this 1966 production of an original work by Stephen Sondheim and writer James Goldman (The Lion in Winter). It's been locked in the vaults since its original airing 44 years ago, but the Archive of American Television has finally released it on DVD restoring a surviving black-and-white kinescope print. Although the original show was in color, it actually benefits from the monochromatic tones given the eerie nature of the tale being told.

The dark-hued story focuses on Charles Snell, a young poet too sensitive for the cold outside world. He decides to live in a department store and write his poetry but soon discovers he's not alone. A secret society headed by the aged Mrs. Munday has lived in the store for decades. Among her band is a young handmaiden, Ella Harkins, an innocent with whom Charles falls in love almost immediately. Abandoned by her mother in the store when she was a child, Ella is unhappy and wants to see the world. However, any plan for escape by the lovers is inevitably thwarted by the Dark Men. The The Twilight Zone-like ending points to the fate of Charles and Ella.
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