Primrose was an
interesting thing to finally experience. It
was a broadcast for an ABC series entitled ABC
Stage 67 which aired the program back in 1966 and only once.
The reason why this long lost television episode has
been dug up for a new DVD treatment is perhaps even more interesting
than the show was (in some regards) itself. This special was a unique
one act musical (uncommon
for television broadcasts at the time) and
an early work by Stephen Sondheim (famous for writing the music and
such works as Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George -- among
several others). Sondheim's music for the
show is indeed the biggest highlight of the entire production and
serves as a
good enough reason to view the show at least once. >
sounds like something straight from an
episode of The Twlight Zone. Anthony
Perkins (Psycho) stars in Evening Primrose
as a poet who decides
to start his life over in a department store so that he can at last be
and free of the burdens of society. The only problem he encounters with
is that there are many others doing the same exact thing already! These
have rules and expectations regarding who can and cannot join in their
parade of sneaky livelihoods at the store. The poet sees fit to join
nonetheless. However, he soon notices a lone young woman (Charmian
captures his attention and the two quickly begin a romance. "Fluffy"
like that appears to be forbidden for those who dwell in the store as
of the movement seem to find pause with their brewing relationship. Can
two stay together and should they continue to stay within the confines
department store or try and return to normal society? That very
question is a
main driving force throughout the program.
The story may sound a bit silly... and that is because it is. The main
thing that truly makes this stand above a standard episode of
television is the
music. It is not just the fact that it is a one act musical. The
strength lies in the remarkable abilities of Stephen Sondheim.
Some of his popular songs are included here: "I Remember" and
to the World" in particular. The emotion in these songs resonates
extremely well and is a joy
to experience as the tunes represent a unique voice finding its path to
greater things to come in the future. >
The direction by Paul Bogart is also quite good. I
had a few qualms with certain scenes and yet I also place a lot of the
of this program on his swift and fun direction which was never
yet always refined. Bogart brings out some great performances from his
too, and that is something that shouldn't be taken lightly as an
I was especially impressed by the performances.
Anthony Perkins stands out in particular with his role. He plays a
and kind man who simply feels lost in his world. This is not the kind
performance I was expecting from him as I have only so much familiarity
his roles outside of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
Perhaps needless to say -- this role tests his acting abilities in an
way than what most viewers will expect and somehow he manages to
bend those expectations. Perkins truly excels here. >
While one can tell this is a dated production (the
low-budget nature of the production occasionally stands out) it is also
to behold such sheer creativity from a group of talent artists working
It comes as no surprise then to learn that the program has gained a
following over time. That status is well earned. >
unfortunate... the video
presentation is hardly eye-catching in the way you would want it to be.
'eye catching' is how bad the
video quality looks. The back of the cover
states this: "impeccably restored and re-mastered from a newly
print". While I cannot claim to be an expert in restoration, I'm
the "impeccable" nature of this special's restoration. The print is
soft, sometimes hazy looking, and features specks of what appears to be
damage to the film. It is not that pleasing visually and will be
underwhelming for most. It is also worth noting
that this program originally aired in color and that no color versions
film even exists anymore. That is quite a shame and obviously a
of this DVD release.
audio presentation fares about the same as the video does.
While the voices can be heard clearly the overall presentation seems to
not be in the best of shape. The sound design is a product of its
time and I was disappointed in how the overall presentation seemed to
have less restoration
than I had anticipated. This mono soundtrack is merely serviceable.
should probably begin by stating
just how surprised I was by the amount of extras included with this
Not only is there an entertaining and informative 30 minute long
director Paul Bogart, there is also test footage (in color) of
Perkins practicing for the role, and a new audio-only interview with
Carr. Both interviews are enjoyable and essentials for fans of Evening
added bonus is a 28 page
long booklet with more information about Evening
Primrose than I would have ever even thought to ask! It is honestly
the most enjoyable and detailed booklets I have ever seen for a release
of the Criterion Collection. It begins with an introduction by the
American Television Director Karen L. Herman, continues with a note by
Sondheim, features an in-depth essay on the entire production by Jane
and rounds everything off with a reprint of the song lyrics.
was thoroughly entertained by this ABC Stage 67 broadcast
production. It is essential viewing for any fan of the composer Stephen
Sondheim. It is also quite fun for the unique performances by Anthony
Charmian Carr. This DVD release features a ton of interesting extras
Audio/Video presentation was disappointing but the quality of the
helped to make up for some of those shortcomings.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.