The Glass Menagerie (1973)
You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present becomes the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don’t plan for it.
Katherine Hepburn stars as Amanda Wingfield, vivacious Southern belle turned struggling single mom and shop assistant in Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical memory play. The narrator, Tom, is recounting the story from the distance of some years. Amanda, who’s hubby ran off years ago, has two grown children (somewhere in their 20s) who live w/ her in a humble St. Louis rowhouse. Tom (Sam Waterston- best known for Law & Order) grudgingly works at a shoe factory, but desperately longs for adventure and time to concentrate on his writing. Laura (Joanna Miles), his older sister, lives in the world of her own mind- playing w/ little glass animal figures and listening to old records.
Into their little world comes factory clerk Jim O’Conner (Michael Moriarty- also of L&O fame). Jim is a positive, enthusiastic, well-mannered guy who’s quite happy w/ life. Amanda is VERY eager to please him, seeing Jim as a potential hubby for Laura.
Amanda, though she often revels in tales of her fabulous girlhood (servants, gowns, lots of gentlemen callers), has BIG hopes and fears for her children. Tom REALLY hates his job, so he doesn’t try to move up the ladder, like someone w/ his brains could do. Laura, VERY sensitive and shy, has left secretarial school and has not had any bfs. And don’t forget the bills! As a teen, I related more to Tom and Laura. I didn’t like Amanda much, but when I watched the film again recently, I was surprised to find that I had sympathy for her as a woman and a mother! I guess I’m getting wiser…
A Moon for the Misbegotten (1975)
This version of Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical play stars veteran theatrically-trianed greats Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst (mother of Campbell Scott) and Ed Flanders (St. Elsewhere). It’s a sequel to A Long Day’s Journey Into Night; the main character is the older son of the VERY dysfunctional Tyrone family. The setting is an old farmhouse in rural Connecticut in the 1920s, where Irish immigrant tenant farmer Phil Hogan (Flanders) lives w/ his VERY sassy, yet hardworking, daughter Josie (Dewhurst). His three sons ran off to make their own way.
One of Hogan’s friends and drinking buddies is also his landlord, Jim Tyrone, a brooding, middle-aged, and faded Broadway actor. Whenever Jim is in town, they talk, drink, and hang out. Josie is also friendly w/ Jim, though she doesn’t like his dark moods. She speaks whenever and however she likes, BUT Jim doesn’t seem to mind like other men! He even likes her looks, though she calls herself an ugly cow. Seeing their affection for each other, her dad hatches a plan to get them together, BUT Mr. Hogan’s plan is badly conceived.
I’d never seen this play before, or even heard of it, so was pleasantly surprised by it. Though it is dark in tone, it’s very compelling. Dewhurst (known to MANY young people as Anne’s adoptive mom in the Green Gables series) just inhabits the role of Josie, a complicated woman w/ smarts, humor, and LOT of compassion. Check it out!