The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (Broadway Theatre Archive) [VHS]

 
9780769726144: The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (Broadway Theatre Archive) [VHS]
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Five-time Tony Award-winner, Julie Harris, recreates her 1972 award-winning Broadway portrayal in this powerful and touching look at the final 17 years in the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, widow to the martyred President. Based on real events, this production casts a sad and sympathetic light onto this frighteningly complicated woman. Mary Lincoln scavenges desperately for money, loses a cherished son to consumption, is branded a lunatic and committed to a mental institution; culminating with her spending her final days fleeing from the preying eyes of the public and a scandal-hungry press. "A fresh, revealing picture of Abraham Lincoln's tragedy-haute wife." --The Washington Post. With Michael Cristofer, Robby Benson, Patrick Duffy, and Jack Furlong.

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Review:

Julie Harris brings depth and grace to one of history's most maligned first ladies in The Last of Mrs. Lincoln. This production, part of the Broadway Theater Archive series, has been adapted for television, but not intrusively. Television allows for cuts and multiple viewing angles, but the feel of a play is very much here. The scenario follows Mary Todd Lincoln and the ill-fated Lincoln family from the year of the president's assassination through the end of Mary's life. The occasional bet-you-didn't-know historical anecdote is thrown in to the dialogue, but otherwise Mrs. Lincoln works well as a play and never feels like classroom fare. Harris reveals Lincoln's stubbornness and tunnel vision where her family is concerned but also lends her sympathy and humor. Though clearly a difficult woman to live with, she is hardly the vicious harridan who has come down through the historical rumor mill. Harris is bolstered by an excellent supporting cast, including Michael Christopher as the much put-upon Robert Lincoln, a young Robby Benson as Tad Lincoln, and Patrick Duffy as Mrs. Lincoln's favorite nephew, Lewis. --Ali Davis

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