Archive for March 29th, 2013


by Allan Fish

the next in the series of small screen masterworks

(UK 1954 107m) not on DVD

Aka. Nineteen Eighty-Four

This has been a Ministry of Truth broadcast

p/d  Rudolph Cartier  w  Nigel Kneale  novel  George Orwell  m  John Hotchkis  art  Barry Learoyd

Peter Cushing (Winston Smith), André Morell (O’Brien), Yvonne Mitchell (Julia Dixon), Donald Pleasence (Syme), Arnold Diamond (Emmanuel Goldstein), Campbell Gray (Parsons), Hilda Fenemore (Mrs Parsons), Pamela Grant, Keith Davis, Wilfrid Brambell, Leonard Sachs, Nigel Kneale (voice from telescreen), Richard Williams (narrator),

Ask anyone who saw Michael Radford’s perfectly passable version of George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare whether it was the first version to be made, and a few dissenters might have recalled Michael Anderson’s inferior 1955 film version, but very few – and certainly next to none outside of the UK – would have remembered this 1954 telecast.  Yet it is one of the milestones of British television drama.  It was originally shown as one of the BBC Sunday Night Theatre dramas, but was so successful – it was said that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh most enjoyed it – they had to repeat it, but this meant actually doing a fresh live performance and it was in this guise it was repeated and was a massive success.  It was adapted by none other than Nigel Kneale, the man behind Quatermass, which was then still in its prime; the auspices, it has to be said were good.  There is therefore a truly bitter irony in the fact that the film went unseen for years due to the rights being bought out for the film of 1984 in the self same year.  It was as if, come the year 1984, even this piece of art would be obsolete.  Or, as Philip Purser observed, “in Orwellian speak, one of TV’s great landmarks now unexisted.” (more…)

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