New to DVD and Blu-ray, Long Day's Journey Into Night, (1962, Olive, unrated, $25) is among the best-ever movies to bear the name of a NEPA-affiliated filmmaker.
Wilkes-Barre native Edythe Edie Rein and husband, Ely Landau, produced the movie, which was sensitively directed by the late, great Sidney Lumet.
In addition to overseeing well-regarded films such as The Pawnbroker and The Man In The Glass Booth, the Landaus spent much of their careers bringing notable American and English plays to the screen through the American Film Theatre, which they founded in 1972. The best play-to-movie translation they were ever involved with was Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece about the ultimate dysfunctional family. Katharine Hepburn and Ralph Richardson star as the Tyrones, a theatrical clan in 1910s New England who are tortured by alcoholism, failure, illness and Mary's worsening drug addiction.
Jason Robards, who went on to become the premiere interpreter of O'Neill's work, is outstanding as the bitter, alcoholic son, while Dean Stockwell nails the role of Robards' TB-stricken brother.
The only way the three-hour film could get made was by the Landaus asking the cast members to accept minimum pay, which they all did, including Hepburn. The resulting film didn't set the box office on fire, but it netted Oscar nods and rave reviews.
Seen today, it's no less powerful than when it premiered.
Trivia note: Edie and Ely's son is Jon Landau who, alongside director James Cameron, produced the first and second most successful films of all time: the $2.7 billion-grossing Avatar (2009) and the $2.1 billion-grossing Titanic (1997).
Amy Longsdorf writes about DVD and Blu-Ray releases with local connections.