This is an excellent film adaption of the late Eugene O’Neill’s lengthy stage work. It has power in its characters and their tortured introspective lives. There have been a few cuts but otherwise it is as O’Neill wrote it. And his powerful language manages to overcome the limited sets and dependence on the spoken word.
It takes a family through the probing of themselves, their relations and their relative reasons for acting as they do. It all develops when the mother one day begins to sink back to drug addiction.
Katharine Hepburn’s beautifully boned face mirrors her anguish and needs. She makes the role of the mother breathtaking and intensely moving. There is balance, depth and breadth in her acting. Ralph Richardson brings his authority to the part of the miserly father who had made money as a theatrical matinee idol but can’t shake his skinflint habits because of a childhood of poverty. Jason Robards has flair and insight as the tortured older brother while Dean Stockwell is effective as the younger brother.
Made reportedly for $400,000, since the principals took minimum pay because of their desire to do the property.
1962: Nomination: Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn)