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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (Broadway Theatre Archive)

4.3 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An aging Southern belle inspires her son and prepares her crippled daughter for a gentleman caller. From the Tennessee Williams play.


Katharine Hepburn, one of the great American actresses, stars in this film adaptation of one of the greatest American plays, Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie. Hepburn plays Amanda Wakefield, a faded Southern belle now living in a small urban apartment, where she suffocates her two children--her restless son Tom (a very young Sam Waterston) and her painfully shy daughter Laura (Joanna Miles)--with her incessant mixture of insistent cheer and guilt. After much prodding from Amanda, Tom finally brings home a friend from his workplace, in the hopes that he might strike up a romance with reclusive Laura. The result is one of the sweetest and most heartbreaking scenes ever written. Hepburn's steely will and sudden vulnerability make her ideal for the domineering mother, but the entire cast--including Michael Moriarty as the "gentleman caller"--is superb; Moriarty and Miles deservedly won Emmy awards for their performances. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Performer theatre and film credits
  • Image gallery
  • Previews for more Broadway Theatre Archive titles

Product Details

  • Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Sam Waterston, Joanna Miles, Michael Moriarty
  • Directors: Anthony Harvey
  • Writers: Stewart Stern, Tennessee Williams
  • Producers: Cecil F. Ford, David Susskind
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007L4MV
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,894 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (Broadway Theatre Archive)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAME on January 7, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Having just watched the 1973 television production of "The Glass Menagerie" I have now seen every Katharine Hepburn performance she ever did on film or television. From "A Bill of Divorcement" to "This Can't Be Love" I now have everything on tape (yes, even "The Iron Petticoat"). This was Hepburn's first television performance and she was working with Anthony Harvey, who directed the actress in her third Oscar winning role in "The Lion in Winter." Hepburn had seen Laurette Taylor's exquisite performance in the original stage production of "The Glass Menagerie," and had long considered Tennessee William's "memory" play to be an American classic. Even though she is the quintessential Connecticut Yankee, Hepburn trotted out an affect Southern accent and tackled the role.
The play is essentially a gigantic flashback told by Tom Wingfield (Sam Waterston), who is now a merchant seaman in a distant port recalling the final days he spent in the family home in St. Louis with his mother, the faded Southern belle, Amanda (Hepburn), and his painfully shy sister, Laura (Joanna Miles). Stuck in a dead end job at a shoe factory and constantly going to the movies to escape his mother, Tom wants to be a poet. Laura, made physically ill by any attempt to go out and function in the real world, has retreated to her imagination and her titular collection of glass animals. Amanda is constantly talking about the old days on Blue Mountain, browbeating Tom for his lack of incentive, or hustling subscriptions for "The Lady's Home Companion." When his mother badgers him into finding a "gentleman caller" for his sister, Tom brings home Jim O'Connor (Michael Moriarty) from work.
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Format: DVD
I just received this yesterday, and immediately settled down, with the cats fed and strict orders of silence, to watch it. What a wonderful, lost jewel. This made for t.v. film was produced the year I graduated from high school, and, the life I then lived in the apartment next to a city train trestle, that I dismally shared with my mother and my dear little sister, was probably a little too similar to Tennessee Williams beautiful play to be of much interest to me then. That this play is based upon his early years is now well known, and, though she denied it most of her life, "Amanda", the suffocating mother played by Katherine Hepburn, is undoubtedly Edwina Williams, Tennessee Williams mother. Though she is the focal point, this "memory play" is as much about Williams beloved sister Rose, whose tragic mental illness and subsequent lobotomy froze her in time. The crippled "Laura" inhabits another world, as did Rose. Williams remained devoted to his institutionalized sister, who outlived him, for his entire lifetime, and always proclaimed her his lifelong love. "Tom", the brother and narrator of the play, dreams of a life filled with adventure, outside of the despised warehouse where he performs his menial work, and free of the unwanted obligations to his abandoned mother and sister. Tom was Tennessee Williams real name, and there is much of him in the fictional Tom. When this play was first produced in the 1940's, Williams career was very young. He considered himself a failure, and, the play was not initially well received. Starring as "Amanda" was Laurette Taylor, formerly a renowned theatre actress, now a Broadway has-been, whose downfall to drink was well known in the theatre world. Upon seeing her in the first early rehearsals of this play, the financial backer screamed to the producer...Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Thank the theatre gods for releasing this absolutely spellbinding and majestic version originally produced for television in 1973.
Deftly balancing Williams' poetry and Hepburn's staunch strength, this version directed by Anthony Harvey absolutely resounds with gentle power and grace.
Waterston makes a delicate Tom without any of the overpowering effiminate qualities that undermines so many other actors who essay the role. He makes the consumate Thomas Wingfield by acknowledging Tennessee Williams' autobiographical reality and marrying it to idealized forms. Like Jason Robards was born to interpret O'Neill, Waterston was born to bring Williams' to life.
Of course one cannot be too effusive in praising the late great Miss Hepburn. Her Amanda is subtle, heroic and painfully tragic as she tackles one of the American theatre's greatest roles. Her work in this version stands as one of the great performances waiting to be discovered.
Thankfully this version is now availbe and serves as a must own for all fans of this play. Along with Paul Newman's equally excellent version, this demands purchasing and cherishing. Absolutely brilliant.
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A brilliant cast gives life to this 1973 production, lending new interpretations which overcome the dated aspects of this 1944 play. Set in St. Louis, the action takes place entirely in the crowded tenement apartment of the Wingfield family, which has fallen upon hard times. Amanda Wingfield (Katharine Hepburn) is a domineering but good-hearted woman with two children, her husband having long vanished. Her daughter Laura, pathologically shy, spends most of her time polishing her collection of glass animals. Unable to adjust to the requirements of secretarial school, Laura is totally dependent on Amanda and Tom, her brother. Amanda is determined to find a husband for Laura so that Laura will be taken care of--and she begs Tom to bring home a friend as a "gentleman caller."

Hepburn is wonderful as Amanda, creating an Amanda who is strong and domineering, yet remarkably dedicated to her children. Hepburn conveys none of Amanda's vulnerability, emphasizing instead her commitment and determination to control the future. She tries to make Laura into her own image, but Laura is so overwhelmed by life that she lacks the confidence she needs to live.

Michael Moriarty, as Jim O'Connor, the gentleman caller who comes for a family dinner, is terrific in his role. His "gentleman caller" is an enthusiastic young man with plans for his future, but he is also an innocent, not quite aware of what Amanda has planned and unprepared for the depth of Laura's vulnerability. Rattling on about his life, he is insensitive to Laura's feelings, having no real appreciation for the fact that she idolized him in high school and is overwhelmed by his presence in her home.
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