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Medea (1959) Starring Judith Anderson

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Medea (1959)

Starring Judith Anderson

This filmed theater version of Euripides' tragedy is the most powerful, intense performance of Medea to date. THere have been four later, bigger budgeted film and theater versions, all of which are outclassed by this one, due mostly to the outstanding performance of Dame Judith Anderson who summons all the deep emotions possible in this role. Notable also is Henry Brandon, a much overlooked actor who does well in the supporting role of the hapless hero Jason who is brought low. All the classic elements of the Greek theater are observed in this production, with effective use of the stylized chorus which emphasizes the ongoing themes of the actions. This is a must-see for anyone interested in the classical Greek drama. It is a joy to witness the gifts of this remarkable actress.

Directors: Wes Kenney (as H. Wesley Kenney), José Quintero
Writers: Euripides (play), Robinson Jeffers (English translation)

Stars: Judith Anderson, Eric Berry, Henry Brandon, Colleen Dewhurst, Aline MacMahon

Judith Anderson won the 1948 Tony Award for Actress in a Drama for "Medea" and recreated the role in this television production.
It is said that when legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini saw Judith Anderson play Medea on the Broadway stage he applauded so enthusiastically that he almost fell out of his box.
Future western movie icon Randolph Scott, from Virginia, was hired as a dialect coach to teach Gary Cooper a Virginia accent, and also has a small non-speaking part in the film.
It's hard to believe that she played Medea a year before she played Paul Newman's mother in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Dame Judith can do it all.
It's the most extraordinary performance I ever seen in a television production, full of venom, anguish, black humor, vulnerability, and cunning. Limited to one set like the play, one scarcely notices it given the brilliant writing and superb performances by most of the cast. Aline MacMahon is very fine as the nurse who knows only too well the potential depth of her mistress' vengeance and the three sympathetic young women of Corinth add much with their commentary, particularly the young Coleen Dewhurst.