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  • Rod Serling's The Comedian (Playhouse 90) [VHS]
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Rod Serling's The Comedian (Playhouse 90) [VHS]

7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mickey Rooney, Kim Hunter, Edmond O'Brien, Mel Tormé, Constance Ford
  • Directors: John Frankenheimer
  • Writers: Ernest Lehman, Rod Serling
  • Producers: Martin Manulis
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Rhino
  • VHS Release Date: September 22, 1993
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302902118
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,216 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

mickey rooney gives the performance of a lifetime

Customer Reviews

5 star
86%
4 star
14%
3 star
0%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I was glad to see that you have this video in your catalogue and wish you had more from Playhouse 90. I was there in Television City when it was made, and it certainly caused a stir there, as well as critically acclaimed by fans of Playhouse 90. With an excellent script by Rod Serling and powerful direction by John Frankenheimer, the wunderkind team of Playhouse 90, this program brilliantly satirizes their perception of the on, and, particularly, offstage life of a famous comedian who also taped shows at the same studio. The Comedian is an excellent example of what a great medium television was and could have been forever until I Love Lucy other such trivia replaced the ever exciting live TV dramas of The Golden Age of Television and reduced the medium to a "cultural wasteland."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I saw a filmed version of this live '57 TV drama on PBS in the early 80's it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Mel Torme was so moving as the beaten down brother/writer for the TV comic Rooney. It is one of the heaviest dramas you will ever see, and it was done in the middle of "the everything is OK" late 50s . One of a kind, and deeply affecting, Mel Torme was the real thing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I was glad to see that you have this video in your catalogue. I was there in Television City when it was made, and it certainly caused a stir there, and it was critically acclaimed by fans of Playhouse 90. With an excellent script by Rod Serling and powerful direction by John Frankenheimer, the wunderkind team of Playhouse 90, this program brilliantly satirizes the on, and particularly offstage, life of a famous comedian who also taped shows at the same studio. It obviously made its point, because the comedian never allowed anyone from the Playhouse 90 staff into his rehearsals or shows. The Comedian is an excellent example of what a great medium television could have been until I Love Lucy other such trivia replaced the ever exciting live TV dramas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annie Van Auken TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 3, 2010
Format: VHS Tape
THE COMEDIAN was directed by John Frankenheimer and originally broadcast 'live' over the CBS network on 2/14/57.

Rod Serling's teleplay consists of three main concurrent plotlines:
1.) Former vaudeville clown Sammy Hogarth, now a successful television comic, and his shrilly abusive relationship with brother Lester and the TV show's writers and production crew.
2.) Head writer Al Preston, whose comedic well has gone dry. A special target of Sammy's wrath, Al in desperation tries to to appease his demanding boss by stealing material.
3.) Lester Hogarth, constant butt of Sammy's TV show opening monologues. A glorified go-fer with no personal life thanks to his brother's constant demands, Lester has little self-respect and is in danger of losing his fed up wife.

As so brilliantly portrayed by Mickey Rooney, Sammy Hogarth defines "ogre." A self-centered megalomaniac, the face he presents to the camera is 180° opposite of his true self; a sadistic phony with a capital "P." That Lester (also superbly limned by Mel Tormé) allows himself to be a doormat is one of the puzzles of this story. With all the pressures from Sam and wife Julie, Lester suffers a sort of breakdown and confronts his brother on camera and on air. Pathetic demands for respect gain nothing but tears in his wife's arms, for at the end, Sammy calls from across a now vacant studio and Lester meekly complies, leaving Julie to stand and contemplate.

The third remarkable performance is Edmond O'Brien as the used-up comedy writer. Al Preston in hindsight wisely sabotages his career by plagiarizing a dead man then freely admitting to his crime. This Sammy Hogarth broadcast will be Al's last, yet it's also a real beginning for him, a liberating escape from Sam's mental chamber of horrors.
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