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Library of Congress

This tag is associated with 10 posts

Played Upon a Stage: She Stoops to Conquer (A-R for ITV, 1960)

The BFI Southbank programme notes for tonight’s presentation of a 1960 schools production of Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 comedy consisted mostly of paragraphs from wikipedia.org about the original play. Since these notes invariably track down reviews for the most recondite productions, it was clear that the production on offer was both obscure and undocumented. The print was one of those recently turned up in the Library of Congress archive, and while at times the audio was echo-y and the pictures wobbly, the production proved to have a simple, winning charm. Continue reading

International Theatre: The Wild Duck (John Clements / Saville Theatre / A-R for ITV, 1957)

Having now seen eight out of the ten programmes from the BFI’s immensely welcome unLOCked screenings, I am happy to hail the 1957 ITV production of The Wild Duck as the most significant discovery of the season. The Wild Duck is a 35mm feature film of a theatre production shot on a sound stage at Shepperton Studios. In part as a consequence of such an unconventional production process, this ‘filmed play’ has an entirely distinctive visual style and a rare dramatic effectiveness. Continue reading

The Sunday Night Play: The Rivals (BBC, 1962)

Three years after BBC producer Hal Burton staged Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, he mounted a production of the playwright’s other great comedy, The Rivals. First presented in 1775, when Sheridan was just twenty-four, it is a contrived tale of love, mistaken identity and the mangling of the English language. Continue reading

Summer Comedy Hour: Charley’s Aunt (BBC, 1965)

The BFI had programmed a showing tonight of a 1960 production of Charley’s Aunt, but when the digital file turned up from Washington just over a week ago, it was discovered that the title was in fact a later production of Thomas’ farce, recorded in 1965 and with Richard Briers in the title role. But it too was ‘missing believed lost’ and now that it has been restored to us it is revealed as both great fun and a rather fascinating hybrid of studio theatre play and sitcom. Continue reading

The Typewriter (A-R for ITV, 1962)

Jean Cocteau’s play The Typewriter, as adapted by Giles Cooper and produced and directed by Joan Kemp-Welch for Associated-Rediffusion, is a strange strange beast. The scholar of French literature Jacques Guicharnaud has written that the 1941 drama is ‘generally considered [Cocteau’s] worse play and one that he himself repudiated’ and as transferred to television here with the conventions of a British drawing-room detective story it becomes almost incoherent. Continue reading

Theatre 625: Doctor Knock (BBC, 1966)

A polished adaptation of Jules Romains’ drama, the BBC production of Doctor Knock was originally transmitted at 8pm on the first Sunday of 1966. The BBC repeated the play in September that year, when J. C. Trewin in The Listener hymned its star Leonard Rossiter as ‘vastly professional and carefully casual’. And then the corporation either wiped or threw away the master recording. Continue reading

Twentieth Century Theatre: The Insect Play (BBC, 1960)

How even to start writing about the 1960 BBC studio production of Karel and Josef Capek’s The Insect Play? This was shown last night at BFI Southbank — and, yes, it really is as bad as these stills might suggest. Judged against even the most sympathetic evaluative standards of today, it is indeed laughably dreadful. Continue reading

More treasures from the Library of Congress

Only last week archivists at the Library of Congress identified one further British television drama of which no copy exists on this side of the Atlantic. Not all the details are known, but the play is Volpone and the recording dates from around 1960. So it seems highly likely that this is the 1959 BBC recording with the legendary Sir Donald Wolfit. Continue reading

Twentieth Century Theatre: Colombe (BBC, 1960)

BFI Southbank last night opened the season of television plays from the remarkable discovery of recordings at the Library of Congress of which no copies existed this side of the Atlantic. The first presentation was Jean Anouilh’s Colombe, produced by Naomi Capon in 1960 with Dorothy Tutin, Sean Connery and Francoise Rosay. This was revealed as an engaging if problematic drama that became more intriguing as it unfolded. Continue reading

The Library of Congress discoveries

BFI Southbank hosts a series of screenings in June with the first public showings of the British drama recordings recently brought to light in the Library of Congress archive. Accompanying these first showings is the discussion Opening the Treasure Chest on 6 June . Continue reading