Long Day’s Boring into Suck

Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962)

This movie is very dated. Whoopie, the mom’s a drug addict and the son’s an alky, whee – you see worse on TV every day now. Well, you would if there wasn’t a writers’ strike, but still. The performances are at turns overwrought and hammy – even Ralph Richardson’s, and he’s PLAYING a hammy actor. The dialog comes off as stilted at best, and it’s extremely obvious that it’s basically a filmed play. Plays need to rely on the dialog to tell the audience what’s happening, for the most part, because a typical stage will have exactly one scene in the background – and you can’t use camera angles, or really any kind of special effects that enhance the storyline, rather than detract from it. As a result, when the play is performed in front of camera, most of the time it’s going to come off as if the actors are merely reading off cue cards.

Katherine Hepburn got a crapload of plaudits for her work here as the Tyrone family matriarch, but her performance struck me as just all over the map. She’s literally climbing the walls in some scenes. Okay, so she’s playing a woman addicted to morphine, but honestly, how tough is it to overact? Her performance made me laugh, it didn’t make me feel any sympathy. The rest of the cast (Richardson, Jason Robards, and Dean Stockwell), by comparison, is mostly good, with Robards really turning in the best work of the bunch.

In all, though, it’s a huge, long bore. Can you believe it’s almost three hours long? Felt more like six. I know it’s based on a classic play and all, but this is one play that probably belongs solely on the stage.

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