James Tyrone Sr.
James Tyrone Jr.
Based on the play by
Director of Photography
In Charge of Production
Film Editing by
Costume Design by
VHS / DVD
Jason Robards Jr.
Jack J. Dreyfus Jr.
VHS / DVD
An Embassy Picture
Original Release 174 minutes - 170 minutes Turner print - DVD 180 minutes
Filmed on location at 21 Tier Street - City Island - Bronx - New York City - New York - USA (house in Connecticut)
and at Long Island Sound - New York - USA
Premiere: May 1962 at the Venice Film Festival
October 9, 1962 in New York City
This is the story of the Tyrone family, compressed into a long day and night in the year 1912 in a seaside cottage in Connecticut, doomed as was the house of Atreus. Young Edmund Tyrone has a melancholy foreboding that tuberculosis will cut short his not-yet-budding career as a writer. His doting mother has a guilt complex because her father died of consumption, and because when Edmund was born, she suffered an illness which sent her to the escape of drugs. The actor father is considered a miser by his two sons, who hold him indirectly responsible for their mother's affliction, considering that she had inept medical care. Now the father is ready to condemn his youngest son to a state health farm. His older son, Jamie, finds some solace in drink and willfully leads young Edmund on carouses which make his own sins seem less deep by comparison. Eventually, all the members of the family rail against one another and their fates.
Arthur Knight - The Saturday Review - 1962
"Katharine Hepburn caps her distinguished career in the role of the pitiful, dope-addicted mother, groping back to the past for dimly remembered moments of happiness. Her transformations are extraordinary as, in recollection, she suffuses her tense and aging face with a coquettish youthfulness or, in the larger pattern of the play, changes from a nervous, ailing, but loving mother into a half-demented harridan. Her final scene, which contains some of O'Neill's most beautiful writing, is in every way masterful (including Lumet's daring cut from a long pull-back to a huge close-up). What is most extraordinary about Long Day's Journey into Night is the way it builds. Shot in progression, the actors come to the peak of their powers just as the play rises to its climax."
Stanley Kauffmann - Show Magazine - 1962
"Of all the cast, Katharine Hepburn brings the subtlest artistic intelligence to bear on the play's most difficult part, the mother, but without ultimate success....Some of her acting vocabulary becomes predictable, the smile as transition to all emotions, the quiet tones before an outburst, the designedly ineffectual gesture; so that, although all has been thoughtfully planned, little is deeply affecting. Miss Hepburn radiates too clear-eyed and intellectual a quality for the character. She is not a cold actress, but her special emotional note is a high-strung sensibility based on perception and intelligence."
Dave Kehr - Chicago Reader
"As someone once said, the only Sidney Lumet film anyone would ever think of seeing twice. Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards, and Dean Stockwell are all excellent in Lumet's 1962 adaptation of the O'Neill play."
Jonathan Rosenbaum - Chicago Reader
"Eugene O'Neill's greatest play - written in 1940, but published only posthumously, in 1956 - is a frankly autobiographical look at his own doomed family, set in 1912, when he was in his early 20s. Sidney Lumet rightly retained the entire text for this 1962 black-and-white feature, which runs for 174 minutes. It's as close to a definitive version as we're likely to get, and it includes what is probably Katharine Hepburn's greatest non-comic performance. The other three actors - Ralph Richardson as the father, Jason Robards Jr. as the older son, and Dean Stockwell as the younger son (O?Neill's self-portrait) - keep pace with her every step of the way."
Tom Milne - Time Out
"A straightforward transposition which captures much of the claustrophobic cannibalism of Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical play about a family tearing itself to pieces in a chain of quarrels, with love and hatred describing vicious circles around the self-centred parsimony of the actor father, the nervy drug-addiction of the mother, the incipient alcoholism of the elder son, and the tubercular condition of the younger one. Described by him as 'a play of old sorrow, written in tears and blood', it imposes itself by sheer weight of emotion. Terrific performance from Robards as the drunk, good ones from Hepburn (despite miscasting), Richardson (his mannerisms for once in character) and Stockwell (though a bit lightweight to represent O'Neill the future writer)."
What Kate had to say
Katharine Hepburn - Me - 1991
"This was a great experience....It is a brilliantly written play, the character of the mother described with such sensitivity that it was an inspiration to do....O'Neill's knowledge of people, and his analysis of that couple, was really thrilling. I just had to think and to concentrate and to read the lines. I felt entirely supported by the words. What an experience! I'll never forget it."
What fellow actors, the director and friends had to say
"Within a week of rehearsal, I knew I was lucky to be living at the same time that lady was. I found her an incredibly creative spirit. I don't think she knew how good she was."
Sidney Lumet - Making Movies - 1995
"Though she had played great roles, nothing could compare with Mary Tyrone for psychological complexity, physical and emotional demand, and tragic dimension. During the first three days of rehearsal I said nothing to her about Mary Tyrone's character. I talked at length with Jason, who'd played his part before, with Ralph and Dean, and of course we talked about the play. When we finished the run-through reading on the third day, there was a long pause. And then, from Kate's corner of the table, a small voice called out 'Help!' From then on, the work was thrilling. She asked, she told, she fretted, she tried, she failed, she won. She built that character stone by stone. Something was still tight about the performance until the end of the second week. There's a moment in the script when her youngest son, trying to cut through her morphine haze, screams at her that he's dying of consumption. I said, 'Kate, I'd like you to haul off and smack him as hard as you can.' She started to say that she couldn't do that, but the sentence died halfway out of her mouth. She thought about it for thirty seconds, then said, 'Let's try it.' She hit him. She looked at Dean's horrified face, and her shoulders started to shake. She dissolved into the broken, frightened failure that was so important an aspect of Mary Tyrone. The sight of that giant Hepburn in such a state was the personification of tragic acting. When the Greeks said tragedy is for royalty, they were only saying that tragedy was for giants. There was no tightness ever again. Kate was soaring."
Sidney Lumet - Making Movies - 1995
"At the end of rehearsal, just before shooting, I gathered the actors to tell them about my shooting system and habits and to find out if there was anything they needed during shooting that we could provide. At this session I said to them, 'And by the way, you're all invited to rushes.' As we were leaving, Kate called me aside. 'Sidney,' she said, 'I've gone to rushes of practically every picture I've ever made. But I won't be coming to these rushes. I can see how you work. I know Boris's work. [Boris Kaufman was the cameraman.] You're both dead honest. You can't protect me. If I go to rushes, all that I'll see is this' - and she reached under her chin and pinched the slightly sagging flesh - 'and this' - she did the same thing under her arms - 'and I need all my strength and concentration just to play the part.' Tears sprang to my eyes. I'd never seen an actor with such self-knowledge and such dedication, trust, and bravery. She was breaking habits of thirty years because she knew they would interfere with the job. That's a giant."