Tag Archives: Katharine Hepburn

Memories On The Small Screen

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday a film we produced played on NBC.  It was Judgement at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, and Werner Klemperer.

Judgement at Nuremberg

We enjoyed it so much—it was so filled with the author, Abby Mann’s screenplay.  And, despite being thought of as too “intellectual and thoughtful,” it was one of our greatest successes! We just love the story about how the film came together and decided to re-share our story with you today (we originally posted the story below November 2014).

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S UNKNOWN TRIUMPH! 

In 1960, a teleplay was performed on Playhouse 90. The program was called Judgment at Nuremburg, which was a somber and serious piece.
Philip Langner of The Theatre Guild, Inc. received a script “over the transom”—as they say about unknown scripts. The Guild directors liked the script and “knowing” its virtual impossibility as a film, decided—with the author’s agreement—to have a play written and to produce it on Broadway.

At the time, Katharine Hepburn was playing Antony & Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT (created by Lawrence Langner). On a very remote possibility, Philip and the author, Abby Mann, drove to Stratford on a matinee day to see Kate.  After the matinee, they went to her cottage.  She opened the door and Philip said politely “Kate, you have a lovely suntan!”  Kate said with her typical Locust Valley lockjaw accent—“That’s not a suntan, those are spots!” Looking back, Philip always wondered if he should have replied, “well, they do look wonderful on you!”

Kate agreed to look at the t.v. production, which she did at The Theatre Guild building on 53rd Street. She liked the teleplay enormously and decided to work diligently to make it into a film.

She sent the play to Spencer Tracy and she succeeded! Tracy sent it to Hollywood producer, Stanley Kramer, who produced it in 1961 with the most incredible cast for such a serious—and therefore risky—film.  Kramer persuaded all 9 film stars to take modest salaries.  The film was released in 1961.

Kramer was the Producer, Philip Langner the Associate Producer, and Abby Mann was the Screenwriter. The incredible cast included:

  • Spencer Tracy
  • Richard Widmark
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Max Schell
  • Montgomery Clift
  • Judy Garland
  • William Shatner
  • Warner Klemperer

Thus, one of the Great War films of all time was created.

And who got it done? Katharine Hepburn.

AND WHO WAS NEVER TOLD ABOUT HER TRIUMPH? The World. 

Judgment at Nuremburg was nominated for 11 Academy awards, winning 2 for Best Actor (Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mann). The film was recently entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

Best regards,
Philip and Marilyn

PS—The discussion in this film on the subject of war is so important, and of course, it is wildly pertinent in today’s world with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Yemen all hoping(?) for some war excitement.

And also: we bought a DVD of Judgement at Nuremberg at Amazon, which is currently for on sale for $12.00.  To order your copy, click here.

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Classic Movies on the Small Screen

Dear Friends,

Today we want to write to you about a lovely happening brought to us by our daughter.

I am speaking about the films that are available every day on Turner Classic Movies (here in New York, it’s Channel 82).

We have been going about our business for years, only really watching PBS and a handful of news stations, but we never seem to branch out and explore other channels.  Finally, our daughter “made us” turn to Channel 82 and we have been extremely enthusiastic ever since!

TCM actors

The best thing about TCM is that they play movies you’d never get to see normally and when you watch them, you realize that you are getting to watch the best movies that were made between 1930-1950!

Many of these films are absolutely wonderful!  In analyzing them, we find that they are very much like Broadway plays.  Back then, movies had not gone into space or battled aliens or imaginary characters—they simply had the feel of the stage, however, you were just viewing them on the big (and now small) screen!

It is so interesting to watch great stars like Bette Davis or Joan Crawford just by changing the channel.  We love this era of movies, where everyone spoke so passionately about life!

The next time you find yourself in front of the television, do turn it on to Turner Classic Movies—you never know what you’re going to find! For example, last night’s line-up was The Good Earth (1933), a wonderful film adaptation of the novel by Pearl S. Buck.  That was followed by the entertaining musical Gold Diggers (1933) starring Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell.  After that was a favorite of ours, Holiday, starring Carey Grant and Katharine Hepburn.  All around, it was an entertaining evening!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

PS—speaking of Bette and Joan, the FX series Feuds: Bette and Joan, starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, only has only weeks left—don’t miss out!  Sundays at 10pm (Eastern Standard Time) on the FX channel.

feud poster

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To The Bard!

Dear Friends,

As April 23rd approaches, there are many celebrations for the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s life!  As a tribute, Channel 13 (aka PBS) is honoring his work!  He was such an instrumental and important person, both in terms of literature and theatre…and well, so many other things.

We at the Theatre Guild are so proud of our founder, Lawrence Langner, creating The American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT.  While it is currently not open, many lovely plays were showcased there—such as The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing, both starring Katharine Hepburn.  And my (Philip) mother played in As You Like It at Westport Playhouse—so one could say that Shakespeare runs deep in the family roots!

No writer is more celebrated than The Bard and if you need any reasons why, just check out some of the Shakespeare inspired and/or written shows Channel 13 will be presenting over the next 10 days!

The 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death is being observed throughout the world in April 2016 with celebrations of the great English playwright and poet (April 1564 – April 23, 1616) and his many works. THIRTEEN celebrates with the premiere of Shakespeare’s Tomb, a new documentary about Shakespeare’s final resting place in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and encores of favorite broadcasts. See the six installments of Season Two of Shakespeare Uncovered (Fridays beginning April 8) and three of Shakespeare’s history-based plays in the Great Performances series “The Hollow Crown” – Richard II and Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 (April 22 & 23).

CHANNEL 13 Lineup:

Friday, April 22

  • 9-10 pm: Shakespeare Uncovered: Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall
  • 10-11 pm: Shakespeare Uncovered: Romeo & Juliet with Joseph Fiennes
  • 1:30-2 am: Theater Talk: Professor James Shapiro on Shakespeare
  • 2-4:30 am: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 1
  • 4:30-7 am: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 2

Saturday, April 23

  • 1-4 pm: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Richard II
  • 4-5 pm: Shakespeare’s Tomb

Sunday, April 24

  • 4-5 am: Shakespeare Uncovered: Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall
  • 5-6 am: Shakespeare Uncovered: Romeo & Juliet with Joseph Fiennes
  • 11:30-noon: Theater Talk: Professor James Shapiro on Shakespeare

 

Go to their website to learn more!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

PS—for a bit of fun, PBS also has this quiz to see which Shakespeare character you are !

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