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Our Town (Widescreen Edition)

51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Veteran actor-director Paul Newman makes his first Broadway appearance in four decades in this sold-out Westport Country Playhouse production of the Thornton Wilder classic. Newman plays the Stage Manager, who narrates the immortal tale of Grover's Corners, U.S.A., and its citizens.The superb cast of Our Town includes Frank Converse, Jane Curtin, Ben Fox, Jayne Atkinson, Stephen Spinella, and Maggie Lacy. "Marvelous," writes the New Yorker.

Thornton Wilder's venerable and shiver-inducing Our Town may be one of the most frequently produced plays in the American repertory, but rarely has it been graced by the likes of Paul Newman's sure hand and stellar clarity. The star was asked by the Artistic Director of the Westport County Playhouse--who just happens to be Joanne Woodward, Newman's wife--to inhabit the role of the all-seeing stage manager in a live production of the show (which subsequently played Broadway). As evocatively re-staged for this video version, the New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners breathes again its crisp air and sad aura of mortality. The show is well acted, especially by vets Jayne Atkinson and Jeffrey DeMunn and heartbreaking newcomers Maggie Lacey and Ben Fox. Newman holds down the center, and his meticulous gestures and singsong voice perfectly conjure up the stage manager's detached but vaguely regretful view of life's transience. The moon is still bright over Our Town. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jayne Atkinson, Wendy Barrie-Wilson, Reathel Bean, John Braden, Tom Brennan
  • Directors: James Naughton
  • Writers: Thornton Wilder
  • Producers: Frank Garritano, Joanne Woodward, Marc Bauman, Rebecca Eaton
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007CIHL0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,738 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Our Town (Widescreen Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 17, 2004
Format: DVD
Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize winning 1938 play is one of my favorites, and this in an exquisite production of it. Paul Newman as the Stage Manager, in one of his most memorable performances, leads a superb ensemble cast. So much of this play is on the invisible stove, eating the imaginary breakfast...and the actors flow through the movements so easily, one almost sees the missing objects.
Wilder's play, which was inspired by Gertrude Stein's 1925 "The Making of Americans", draws one into it, with the actors sometimes talking directly to the viewer; it has a simplicity and charm that make it stay fresh even when one knows the words by heart.
The time is the early 20th century, in Grovers Corners, New Hampshire, and centers on the Webb and Gibbs families, who live next door to each other, and especially Emily Webb (Maggie Lacey) and George Gibbs (Ben Fox), who fall in love with gentle glances and sweet words. Lacey and Fox are luminous, and capture the heart of this lovely play.
As their parents, Jayne Atkinson and Frank Connors are marvelous as Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs, as are Jane Curtin and Jeffrey DeMunn as Charles and Myrtle Webb.
Originally produced for Connecticut's Westport County Playhouse, the show later moved to Broadway, where it garnered Paul Newman, 78 at the time, a Tony nomination.
Directed by James Naughton, this is a splendid performance of a perfect, and quite profound play; it is a keeper, and one that will make you smile, and sometimes weep, over and over again. Total running time is 120 minutes.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By P. Kolar on March 14, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This PBS production of "Our Town" catches much of the flavor of the play as Thornton Wilder intended it to be staged. Paul Newman is fine as the Stage Manager, bringing his long lifetime of experience to a subtle interpretation of the role. The rest of the cast bring the town of Grovers Corners to life. Fans of the original "Saturday Night Live" may be surprised to see Jane Curtin as Mrs. Webb; although I would have advised her to lose the weird accent she uses, her performance is realistic and adds to the play.
For those who don't know the play, it shows life in a small town in New Hampshire circa 1901 - 1913. The main characters are two young people who grow up, fall in love, get married, and are separated by death. On the surface, it's just another piece of nostalgia, but there are dark currents in Grovers Corners, little ironies and inconsistencies that are often commented on by the Stage Manager, and are embodied in the town drunk Simon Stimson.
Be advised if you don't like sentiment: you'll have a lump in throat throughout the entire third act as the play explores the beauty of everyday life. And afterward, you'll look at your family and friends in a different way.
Bravo to PBS for having the vision to bring this classic to a new audience, staged in the bare-bones way of the original play. Buy this DVD - you'll watch it over and over and force it on your friends.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joe Towey on November 9, 2006
Format: DVD
We bought this DVD because our daughter got the lead (Emily) in her college's presentation of it and we wanted to get an introduction to the play before we went to see it live. When we watched the movie, we were thoroughly impressed with the acting of the entire ensemble and with the quality of the production.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2008
Format: DVD
"Choose an unimportant day" is the advice her mother-in-law gives Emily, newly arrived at the land of the dead, when she decides to return to the world briefly in Thornton Wilder's incomparable classic. Emily chooses her 12th birthday to return to earth and finds even that day all too painful and quickly leaves Grover Corners to be with the dead. This heartbreaking scene still makes my eyes burn as the play remains powerful, having survived countless high school productions. Paul Newman as the stage manager gives a brilliant performance. Some of his lines must have been poignant for him: "You wake up one day and you are 70." He is now old, over 80-- but he has aged well-- and venerable but still a fine actor and a perfect choice to head this production, originally produced at the Westport Country Playhouse and later moved to Broadway. In commentary that accompanies the play Joanne Woodward, one of the producers, said that she wanted to mount this prouction after the awful events of 9/11.

Almost anything you can say about "Our Town" will sound trite, but it is universal, timeless and about all the things that matter-- young love, marriage, old age, death, the daily routines of putting a meal on the table, the beauty of living day to day although we the living sometimes run roughshod over others with our own self-centeredness and do not look at the stars enough.

Watching this production for the second time, I was struck at how poetic Wilder's language is and how beautifully Mr. Newman delivers his lines, along with the other supporting characters as well. This production is a perfect example that less is more.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By PerfectDayReader on February 18, 2008
Format: DVD
... see it here. Newman as the Stage Manager is completely in charge, and does not succomb to sentiment. A reader, or viewer, who thinks this play is sentimental, may stand corrected, especially when dismissed by Newman at the end of the production. The staging is minimalist, as originally intended; this is about masterful actors and dialogue, and stagecraft that evokes and insinuates. Well done!
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