Customer Reviews for

Criterion Collection - Golden Age Of Television

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Best DVD Of The Year?

    My parents always told me about when they watched television in the 1950's, when most of it was live, some of it was shot on kinescope cameras and none of it was done with the computer-graphic imaging that is so commonplace today. My mother, in particular, always tells me when she first saw Rod Steiger playing in Paddy Cheyfesky's "Marty", the simple, poignant story of a lonely Bronx butcher, before Ernest Borgnine turned it into an Oscar-winning film. She hadn't seen that drama since she was in her twenties. So, you can imagine how excited she was when she found out I got this DVD. It was like re-living a cherished moment of her past while at the same time, I was experiencing something which I had only heard about.

    Released by The Criterion Collection, "The Golden Age Of Television" could be the best DVD of 2009. This three-DVD set features dramas that were first shown on CBS' "Playhouse 90" in the 1950's, when television was still young and introduced Broadway plays of every kind to an audience that otherwise would never have known them. These dramas include some of the finest acting talent at the time such as "Requiem For A Heavyweight" featuring Jack Palance, Keeenan Wynn and Ed Wynn ("Requiem", by the way, was written by a pre-Twilight Zone Rod Serling). Another Serling drama, "Patterns" is here as well, directed by John Frankenheimer who later helmed action thrillers like "Grand Prix", "Black Sunday" and "Ronin". There's also "The Comedian" with Mickey Rooney and "No Time for Seargents" with Andy Griffith. And of course, Rod Steiger as "Marty".

    What makes this set so remarkable is that you watch this and you appreciate how, despite the obvious limitations at the time, the people who made these teleplays were able to tell brilliant, believable stories. "Requiem", for example, tells the story of a simple-minded, washed-up boxer who is forced to become a humilitating wrestler to help his hapless manager get out of a Mob debt. "Patterns" is Serling's cautionary tale about corporate greed and back-stabbing which is more than palpable in these recessionary times. As for "The Comedian", that's about a ruthless actor who steps on almost everyone in order to get to the top of his profession. It's easy to look at this and wonder why television doesn't do something like this anymore? Or why we leave it to PBS or cable networks to do it? Incidentally, PBS did bring these dramas back in the 1980's after discovering them in a New Jersey warehouse gathering dust. They're now a positive part of our culture.

    This is a real find and even though it doesn't have much of the whistles and bells we find in DVDs these days, it doesn't need them. The quality of the plays truly speak in volumes. Anyone who never thought they'd see these teleplays again will be in for a real surprise seeing this DVD. It'll bring back memories for those who still remembered them. It'll make those who forgot how great they were blush with embarssment. And for those who have NEVER seen these teleplays before? Well, they don't know what they're missing.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Dialogue as Special Effect

    This collection of 1950's Golden Age of TV is not mere memorabilia. It is a collection of classic productions, consisting of excellent acting performances in the context of superior direction. Although resources and effects were limited, these artists were able to capture timeless presentations of the human condition which remain as applicable today as they were 50 plus years ago. Here, were writers who relied upon dialogue presented by persons who actually acted and became the role, rather than stars whose performance was "good enough" for Hollywood. The acting emerges from within the artist through the fine tuned vehicle of the writer's screenplay.

    This is a collection for students and devotees of film, literature, and even 20th century American history in terms of screenplay as captured moment in time. Young as well as mature audiences who seek immersion into a world of thoughtful and introspective dialogue will be overwhelmed by the intense quality in these productions.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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