Long Day's Journey into Night

Embassy Pictures Corporation (Ely Landau Productions)

Sidney Lumet’s Long Day’s Journey into Night is faithful adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s detailed study of family life in the l9l0s.

Considered to be O’Neill’s masterpiece, this dense, haunting personal play continues to be done on Broadway and in regional theater, with every actor and actress vying to play one of the splendidly written roles.

In this version, Katharine Hepburn plays Mary Tyrone, the morphine-addicted wife-mother, Ralph Richardson is her stern, pompous actor-husband, Dean Stockwell is the young son Edmund dying of TB, and Jason Robards as the alcoholic son Jamie.

Unlike most American films based on stage plays, this adaptation is truely cinematic due to landmark work from lenser Boris Kautman, whose superlative camera movements help accentuate every significant gesture and word of dialogue. (Kaufman was Oscar-nominated just once for the photography of Kazan’s “Baby Doll.”)

Boasting four astonishing performances (five if you count the small part of the maid), this is ensemble acting at its very best. In fact, the whole cast received an acting prize at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.

Along with “Alice Adams” (1935) and “The Philadelphia Story” (1940), “Long Day’s Journey” represents the epitome of Hepburn’s screen acting. At Oscar time, however, only Hepburn was singled out with a nomination (see below). Then the National Board of Review honored Jason Robards.

Originally, the film’s running time was 174 minutes, which was then cut to 136 minutes.

End Note

Jason Robards, who initially played the son Jamie, later played the role of the father in a landmark Bicentennial production of the play.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Actress: Katharine Hepburn

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

This was Katharine Hepburn’s ninth Best Actress nomination; she would receive three more nod (1967, 1968, 1981), each of which will grant her an Oscar Award. In 1962, Hepburn lost the Oscar to Anne Bancroft in “The Miracle Worker.”