U.S.A. • 1950 • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 107 MIN

His first Broadway success, The Glass Menagerie is Williams’ most poignant play, being essentially an affectionate portrait of his own family. In this film, Gertrude Lawrence plays the mother, someone with ‘great but confused vitality’ as Williams says, and Jane Wyman plays the sister, crippled from a childhood illness and who, in the author’s words, ‘like her own glass collection, seems too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf.’

Coming from director Irving Rapper, who made Now Voyager, the film might be expected to make the most of a relationship between domineering mother and shy, repressed daughter. The surprise, though, comes from the near-definitive performances of the male roles. That great actor Arthur Kennedy is superb as Tom, the author’s surrogate, and Kirk Douglas brings an engaging charm to the role of the gentleman caller. Williams thought the film sentimental, but like a number of adaptations of his work, whilst soft round the edges, it has a solid, sensitive core.

Thanks to Hollywood Classics and the 20th Century Fox Film Archive in the U.S. for providing an excellent 35mm print of this film.

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