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The Iceman Cometh
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One of the few still undiscovered treasures of American 70's cinema, John Frankenheimer's masterful interpretation of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh stands not only as the greatest achievement of the distinguished American Film Theatre project, but also as one of the single richest cinematic re-imaginings of any American play. Near the end of his brilliant and varied career, director Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, The Train) singled out the little known Iceman as "the best creative experience I ever had." In the faded light of Harry Hope's 1912 New York skid row bar, a rag tag group of fallen men, each like a ghost haunting the wreckage of his own life, await the annual arrival of Hickey (Lee Marvin). This year, however, the charismatic Hickey brings not the usual rounds of drinks and pats on the back, but the unwelcome news that he's off the sauce for good and has come to persuade Hope's drunks to do the same. One by one, the regulars' booz-basted pipe dreams come under Hickey's leering microscope until finally the most shocking self-deception turns out to be Hickey's own. Academy Award winner Fredric March (The Best Years of Our Lives, A Star Is Born) leads an all-star dream cast in a final performance that the L.A. Times declared, "quite simply, perfect." Roger Ebert described Robert Ryan's (The Wild Bunch, The Dirty Dozen) characterization of Hickey's anarchist nemesis as "possibly the best of his distinguished career." But, Iceman belongs to Lee Marvin, stepping out of the tough guy roles that made him a star into a haunting portrayal of the madman that hides beneath the smiling face of the life of the party.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medPG PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
- Product Dimensions : 7.75 x 5.5 x 1 inches; 6.46 Ounces
- Item model number : 2568567
- Director : John Frankenheimer
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
- Run time : 3 hours and 59 minutes
- Release date : April 1, 2003
- Actors : Lee Marvin, Fredric March, Robert Ryan, Jeff Bridges, Bradford Dillman
- Producers : Edward Lewis, Ely A. Landau, Les Landau, Robert A. Goldston
- Studio : Kino Lorber films
- ASIN : B00008HCA9
- Writers : Eugene O'Neill, Thomas Quinn Curtiss
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I wondered if my system were failing -- the receiver, or the TV, or the Blu-ray player.
The appearance of the "Director's Cut" (more likely the original filming before edit) is worse than that of a deteriorated VHS cassette. From one scene to another the lighting will be so radically different -- sometimes normal, but at most others too dark, and at others without any colors but browns.
If this is such an important film, why the was the worst possible recording of it used!?
The shorter theatrical release on the second disc doesn't have those problems.
So one is paying for two discs, but only one is watchable.
A great ensemble of performances, with several standouts. The great Frederic March in his last performance, Robert Ryan, also in his last performance, and Lee Marvin, totally blowing away any preconceptions one may have had of him as an action-type actor.
This Amazon Prime version is a rather poor quality transfer, but that doesn't matter. A great experience.
I was amazed to watch Marvin hold center stage through pages and pages of dialogue with absolute power.
Truthfully, if not for Marvin's superb performance, I would not have watched the entire thing as the play is essentially all words/no action which I find boring after a certain point. However, Marvin's passion and physicality when speaking of his love /hate relationship with his wife was absolutely mesmerizing.
I note that other reviewers were impressed with famous cast members more conventionally recognized for their artistry. But for me this work belongs to Lee Marvin and really shows his ability to MORE than hold his own with the best.
Bradford DIllman and Jeff Bridges as two younger guys were quite good. Fredric March was excellent as Harry Hope. And Robert Ryan was probably the best Larry Slade ever.
To crown the work there is Lee Marvin as Hickey, the Iceman. If one watches the Lumet version with Robards as Hickey, one will see that Marvin and director John Frankenheimer designed the part differently. I don't want to give away the key to the play, and Marvin's masterful performance, but it has to do with the overall theme that the play is after: the madness of any hope of escaping from illusions. What Marvin does with that idea is really something. Especially in the anti climax of the play after he explains why he did away with his beloved wife.
Frankenheimer directed in a skilled and resourceful way, and the script is neatly pruned to four hours with an intermission. This version of the play did a lot to stir interest in The Iceman Cometh. It may be the best American play ever written.
As a former bar dweller, I can identify with these poor souls who spend their days pontificating over nothing adn drinking to escape.
Not wanting to bore you with a long winded review, (there are far more better reviews here than I could ever offer), I will give one thought.
In the end we discover why Marvin's character stopped drinking, and when we are met with this revelation we also realize why he was so intent on challenging his fellow barmates to change.
He ended his life the night before for all intents and purposes. My view is that he was not attempting to humiliate any of them, but to save them from the fate he was about to suffer.
Of all the characters, in the end it seems he was able to save one, Robert Ryan's character. THe rest go on and on with their daily routines of dreaming, avoiding and drinking.
I am so happy that this masterpiece was finally offered up on DVD. The restoration is not the best, but it is the only credible version in existence and will forevor be. THank God we have it for future generations to enjoy and perhaps learn something from.