The Rubaiyat of Eugene O’Neill — 13 Comments

  1. Another fascinating post, Jim, and I had no idea of this film being the influence of the Andy Hardy series. I wonder what O'Neill would have made of that.

    I must check out this film next time it's on TCM. It sounds marvelous. I had no idea Eric Linden was the actor in "Gone with the Wind."

    I think I enjoy "Summer Holiday" a bit more than you do, if only for that marvelous Fourth of July celebration sequence.

    For what it's worth my least favorite Artur Freed musical is "Kismet." I've tried several times, but I find it an unendurable bore, save for some good dance numbers.

  2. Thanks, Kevin. By all means, check out Ah, Wilderness! next time it crops up on TCM. It's also available here from the Warner Archive if you see it on Turner and decide you simply must have your own copy.

    Of course, Kismet! How could I have forgotten? I love the show and the score, but that's got to be the dullest movie anyone connected with it ever made — and I include Mike Mazurki and Jamie Farr.

  3. Thanks for your terrific post on the timeline and influence of O'Neill on MGM and Louis Mayer; I really enjoyed your excellent analysis. O'Neill does seem an unlikely influence on Mayer and his family-oriented films, but you make it clear how this one play of O'Neill's resonated with the MGM mogul (who seemed himself to have a self-image as the studio 'paterfamilias' overseeing one big happy family). I haven't seen 'Ah Wilderness,' but I was surprised to see Beery's name over Barrymore's in the billing, since Lionel was also one of MGM's biggest stars and, like Beery, also an Oscar winner. I shall check this film out at WB Archive, thanks for the tip!

  4. Much appreciated, GOM! And you're so right about L.B.'s patriarchal self-image. Wish I'd thought to make that point myself; now that you mention it, it's clear Mayer must have identified with Judge Hardy (which probably also explains his particularly avuncular relationship with Mickey Rooney).

    As for Beery's magnified billing, you raise a good point. I can easily imagine that that was a sop to Beery's overbearing vanity, just as I imagine writing him into the opening scene was. Barrymore may well have shrugged the second billing off as a small price for keeping "that baboon" (as Robert Young called him) happy.

  5. This is one of the most completely fascinating posts I've read – from your description of the early draft screenplay for "Ah, Wilderness!" to your final reflections on the L.B. Mayer formula and long-term impact of O'Neill's play. A wide-ranging and detailed tour de force.

    Sad to say, though I've seen "Long Day's Journey…" many times (a favorite Hepburn performance) and all the Andy Hardy films, etc., I've never seen "Ah, Wilderness!" After reading this post, I've got to find it now…

  6. Thanks, Eve, I'm honored! By all means, check out Ah, Wilderness! when you can; it's excellent in its own right, plus it makes quite a compare-and-contrast with Long Day's Journey.

    And by the way, I'm with you about Sidney Lumet's 1962 movie; for my money, Hepburn's best performance by a good wide margin. For that matter, Ralph Richardson was never better either — and in his case as in Hepburn's, that's saying something.