Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the 1971 episodes of N.E.T. Playhouse. For the opening look at the 1966 episodes click HERE.
LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS (January 7th) – A 1970 British telefilm. This comedy dealt with an eccentric young British genius drafted to work as a Russian translator for the military intelligence service during Egypt’s 1956 bid to nationalize the Suez Canal. During the resulting crisis, the young genius steals some classified documents to try to impress his mocking family members and chaos follows. 90 minutes.
AN IDEAL HUSBAND (January 14th) – Adaptation of the play by Oscar Wilde. THE Jeremy Brett starred as the good guy, Viscount Arthur Goring, who takes action when the brother of his lady love Mabel Chiltern (Susan Hampshire) is being blackmailed by a conniving socialite (Margaret Leighton). Originally aired in England in 1969. 90 minutes.
A MEMORY OF TWO MONDAYS (January 28th) – This was a 90-minute production of Arthur Miller’s memorable play about several days in the lives of blue-collar workers during the Great Depression. Among the cast members were Harvey Keitel, Estelle Parsons, Tony Lo Bianco, Jerry Stiller, Dick Van Patten, Jack Warden, Cathy Burns and J.D. Cannon.
HARD TRAVELIN’ (February 4th) – Adaptation of Millard Lampell’s play about the travels of Andy, an unemployed young man during the Great Depression and the scavengers of human misery who preyed on the working class. Ralph Meeker embodies those vultures from politics, religion, law enforcement and other forces. The hour-long production used short insertions of filmed footage of America during the 1930s as transitions. Paired with the 29-minute documentary Four Pioneers.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME (February 11th) – An airing of the (then) recently rediscovered film Once In a Lifetime, which was long considered lost. The 1932 movie was an adaptation of the first stage collaboration between George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Hollywood was lampooned in this comedy about a studio head (Jack Oakie) and his chaotic administration of his entertainment fiefdom. Zasu Pitts and Onslow Stevens also starred in this film which SHOULD have been adapted for the Marx Brothers, in my opinion. 91 minutes.
THE MOVIE CRAZY YEARS (February 18th) – An 89-minute N.E.T. Playhouse documentary about the movies, staff and stars of Warner Brothers during the 1930s. Featured film clips, news reels and interviews with many of the studio’s actors from the time period, like Bette Davis, Edward G. Robinson, Olivia de Havilland and Pat O’Brien.
PARADISE LOST (February 25th – March 4th) – For 2 weeks running, 90-minute installments of the Clifford Odets play (NOT the John Milton epic) were presented. The drama dealt with the decline of the middle class during the Great Depression as seen through the eyes of a family who run a boarding house and their boarders. Eli Wallach, Bernadette Peters, Sam Groom, Fred Gwynne and others starred.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (March 11th-18th) – For another 2 weeks running, 90-minute installments of Franco Zefferelli’s 1965 film version of Shakespeare’s play were broadcast. Among the stars were Maggie Smith, Robert Stevens, Derek Jacobi, Caroline John and Frank Finlay.
REDDICK (April 1st) – Donald Harron starred as “Red” Reddick, an inner-city minister who is subjected to a mock trial by the juvenile delinquents he has taken in. The youngsters accuse him of exploiting them for his own image’s sake in a drama that questioned the motives of the minister, the youths and both the political left and right when it comes to troubled young people. 75 minutes.
MAD JACK aka SIEGFRIED SASSOON (April 15th) – A 1970 British telefilm about the young poet Siegfried Sassoon, who was awarded the Military Cross during World War One, but while on leave in 1917 criticized what he saw as the corporate and other vested interests behind the entire conflict. The 75-minute production was paired with a 15-minute short titled The Days of Wilfred Owen. Owen was another World War One poet who served in the conflict but was killed in action. His poems were published posthumously by Siegfried Sassoon in 1920.
GEORGE ELIOT (April 22nd) – A look at the life and struggles of the 19th Century female writer and her defiance of societal conventions of the time period. Sheila Allen starred. Paired with the short film Virginia Woolf: The Moment Whole, about that female author. I could not find the time breakdown between the two pieces.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (April 29th) – A 1970 film made for British television dealing with Beethoven’s life. The production covered the period from his arrival via stagecoach in Vienna during 1792 to his encroaching deafness as he grew older. Michael Jayston, Judy Parfitt and Edward Hardwicke starred. 85 minutes.
ISADORA DUNCAN: THE BIGGEST DANCER IN THE WORLD (May 6th) – Director Ken Russell stepped away from composer biopics for this 1-hour telefilm about the legendary dancer Isadora Duncan. Her artistic innovations, controversial personal life and her banishment from the Soviet Union are covered, along with the ugly deaths of her husband, her children and finally herself.
JOHN AND SAM ADAMS (May 13th) – Dramatic rendering of the trial for the British soldiers accused of committing the Boston Massacre in 1770. Lawyer John Adams (Laurence Luckinbill) serves as one of the defense lawyers for the soldiers, whom he feared could not receive a fair trial given the public anger. This put John at odds with his cousin Sam Adams (James Karen), who was pushing for violence against the British. 90 minutes.
DANTE’S INFERNO (May 20th) – Not the epic poem, but a 1969 biographical made-for-British television movie about artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the prime movers among the Pre-Raphaelites. The production covers Rossetti’s life from 1848 through his troubled marriage and his effort to have his late wife’s coffin exhumed so he could retrieve the poems he had buried with her. Oliver Reed starred. 90 minutes.
GEORGES JACQUES DANTON (June 3rd) – An 85-minute biopic starring Anthony Hopkins as Danton, with flashbacks depicting his life as he spends his final hours awaiting execution on the guillotine. The drama contrasts Danton’s fiery, passionate nature with Robespierre’s colder fanaticism. Alan Dobie and Jerome Willis also starred.
SOCRATES (June 10th) – Combination of two 44-minute episodes of the BBC series Sunday Night. Leo McKern starred as Socrates in both parts. First was the 1965 episode The Drinking Party, based on Plato’s Symposium, and then came the 1966 episode The Death of Socrates. Both portions take license to present the proceedings as a contemplation of Socrates by British students during a reunion with their former teacher (also played by McKern). Michael Gough co-starred.
JULIUS CAESAR (June 17th) – A 1969 British television adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Frank Finlay, Edward Woodward, Robert Stephens and Anthony Bates starred. 2 hours long.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS (June 24th) – Years before The Long Riders, James and Stacy Keach starred in this 90-minute depiction of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Replicas of the Wright Brothers’ experimental aircraft leading up to the December 17th, 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk were featured in this drama. Despite countless obstacles, the brothers become pioneers in aviation.
HOGAN’S GOAT (October 11th) – Adaptation of William Alfred’s play, a political tragedy set in Brooklyn at the turn of the century, when it was still a separate town and not part of New York City’s boroughs. Irish politician Matthew Stanton (Robert Foxworth) is so determined to unseat Brooklyn Mayor Quinn (George Rose) that he ultimately destroys himself and his wife Kathleen (Faye Dunaway). Rue McClanahan and Betty Sinclair also starred. 2 hours.
HOME (November 29th) – David Storey’s drama about five lonely, elderly patients in a home for the insane and their interactions with each other one afternoon. One of them has been lobotomized. Starred John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Dandy Nichols, Mona Washbourne and Warren Clarke. 86 minutes.
AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS: WORDS AND MUSIC (December 20th) – Burt Lancaster hosted this hour-long presentation featuring songs, music and readings from written excerpts centering around Christmas. James Earl Jones read from Frederick Douglass’ description of what the holiday was like for a slave, while Linda Lavin and others tackled Christmas writings from Mark Twain, Robert Frost and Lincoln Steffens. The Harlem Children’s Chorus and the Columbus Boys Choir performed.
I’LL BE COVERING THE 1972 EPISODES OF N.E.T. PLAYHOUSE SOON.
FOR MORE FORGOTTEN TELEVISION CLICK HERE.
6 responses to “1971 EPISODES OF N.E.T. PLAYHOUSE: FORGOTTEN TELEVISION”
Socrates looks the best of the bunch. Where do you get all this information from, it’s impressive. Especially English productions.
Some from books, most on the internet. Sometimes you have to go all the way to like the 19th or 20th screens of your original search to find the more obscure stuff.
Thank you! Plus sometimes I can actually watch these productions on youtube, or streaming services or archive.org.
Too bad they don’t replay these. But I guess “reality TV” has taken over, eh?
So it would seem. And I agree, so many of these deserve to be rebroadcast and many are still in the WNET archives according to their own site.