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A movie directed by Paul Newman

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Seen through the eyes of a child

  • May 11, 2000
Pros: Powerful performances

Cons: .....

This often released tale, made more powerful by it's small but accomplished cast, stays close to the original play by Tennessee Williams than many of its' other releases. Thanks to Paul Newman's dedication to a timeless classic, "The Glass Menagerie" is both heartbreaking and joyful.

Wonderful performances by Joanne Woodward as the mother, Amanda Wingfield; John Malkovitch as the brother, Tom Wingfield; and James Naughton as the gentlemen caller, Jim O'Connor. The highlight of the entire film however is the fantastic performance by Karen Allen as Laura Wingfield, the painfully shy and somewhat handicapped star of the show. The fact that Allen can overshadow seasoned actors such as Woodward and Malkovitch, makes her performance that much more powerful.

Amanda is both soft and overbearing, facing a lonely life trapped in a dreary apartment with an alcoholic son and a crippled mouse of a daughter. The ultimate dreamer, she reflects on times past and does not understand why her Amy has no gentlemen callers (this is based in the 30's) and why her son spends so much time alone at the movies. Little does she know he spends more time in the bottle than the movies.

Forced by his mother to supply a suitor for his sister, Tom enlists the help of his co-worker, Jim O'Connor. Amy, discovering who is coming to visit, is thrown in a dither - he being a boy she pined over all through school.

Always shy and retiring, Amy has isolated herself in a world surrounded by her beautiful glass figurines. Timid, she covers on the couch, trying to disguise her infirmity. Left alone with Jim she discusses their previous encounters in school and he finally remembers her. After a little tender reflection, O'Connor realizes he is getting in over his head and tells her he is engaged to another person.

Tom goes on with his life but is always haunted by the vision of his sister, sitting on that couch, cradling her figurines. Unable to live with the guilt any longer, he return to live after many years in the lonely empty apartment, surrounded by his sister's lovely collection.

An outstanding achievement for Newman who gives such detail to such a small production you barely realize it is filmed entirely inside the apartment. His attention to detail leaves you as trapped as these people in this environment. Three of the actors in this film release also played the same parts on stage, with the exception of Malkovich. Filmed entirely in 30 days, an unusual idea for the movie making people. A beautiful film, worth every minute spent watching it!


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


In this adaptation of Tennessee Williams's 1944 play, a celebrated exemplar of familial drama, the tragic Wingfields live on the fine line between fantasy and reality in their Depression-era St. Louis apartment. As young Tom (John Malkovich) yearns to escape the household and pursue his dreams of writing, strong-willed matriarch Amanda (Joanne Woodward) attempts to impose her shattered dreams into the life of her shy, reclusive daughter, Laura (Karen Allen). Paul Newman offers up his final directorial effort in this worthy, heartbreaking adaptation.
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Director: Paul Newman
Release Date: 1987
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 2hr 14min
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