British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

King Lear

Synopsis
Shortened version of the play adapted for television. Transmitted live in the Omnibus slot, the production was filmed on a circular set with two cameras that travelled around the perimeter. Reviews note innovative camerawork, awkward blocking and over-crowded scenes resulting in a stangely static production, ill-suited to the small screen, which sacrificed key lines of the text to showy visuals. The Gloucester sub-plot was cut. Staged by Peter Brook.
Series
Omnibus (Us Series)
Language
English
Country
United States
Medium
Television
Year of release
2010
Transmission details
18 Oct 1953 at 19:15 (Channel: CBS)
Duration
90 mins

Credits

Director
Andrew McCullough
Producer
Fred Rickey
Cinematographer
Andrew McCullough
Writer
William Shakespeare
Music
Virgil Thomson
Contributor
Peter Brook
Cast
Orson WellesLear
Natasha ParryCordelia
Fredric WorlockEarl of Gloucester
Alan BadelFool
Micheál MacLiammóirEdgar, later disguised as Tom o’Bedlam
Arnold MossDuke of Albany
Beatrice StraightGoneril
Bramwell FletcherEarl of Kent
David J StewartOswald
Lloyd BochnerGentleman
Margaret PhillipsRegan
Scott ForbesDuke of Burgundy
Wesley AddyKing of France

Additional Details

Production type
Television and Radio Drama
Plays
King Lear
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)
Related items
Omnibus [11/10/1953]

Notes

Notes
Included in ORSON WELLES COLLECTION (1946) and sold on DVD under that title.
Released as a standalone DVD in January 2010. Extras include an extract from a the Omnibus episode 11/10/1953 in which Alistair Cooke talks to Brook and composer Virgil Thomson, a 16-page booklet which features Brook’s recollections of the production and notes by Welles’ biographer Simon Callow.
General
Welles’ first television appearance and the first broadcast on American television to be uninterrupted by sponsors. The play was introduced by Alistair Cooke as ‘the noblest item in English dramatic literature’ and Shakespeare presented as a civilising agent in the modern world ‘at least to those of us who’ve been lucky enough to survive the barbarities of the twentieth century’.
Reviews
For an assessment of the production and a summary of contemporary critical reaction see Michael Anderegg, Orson Welles: Shakespeare and Popular Culture (New York, Columbia University Press, 1999), pp29-34. Alice Griffin ‘Shakespeare Through the Camera’s Eye’ Shakespeare Quarterly, 6 (1955), pp63-66

Production Company

Name

TV-Radio Workshop of the Ford Foundation

Archive

Name

Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

Web
http://catalog.loc.gov/ External site opens in new window
Phone
(20) 707-8572
Fax
(20) 707-237’1
Address
Motion Picture & Television Reading Room
James Madison Building, LM 336
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C.
20540-4690
United States

Online Retailer

Name

amazon.co.uk

Web
http://www.amazon.co.uk External site opens in new window

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