I joined PBS online for streaming their shows for just $5.00 a month. I was thrilled until I tried to watch various videos. Almost every video I wanted to watch required a Passport, an additional donation. I felt ripped off.
Every once in a while I do streaming video searches for my favorite movies and I keep hoping that I will finally find Cyrano de Bergerac from a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation that I saw in 1963. It starred Christopher Plummer before he became famous in The Sound of Music. The Canadian actor was well received in his live performances. I loved the production. Somewhere I have a reel-to-reel audio recording for the performance, but alas, no reel to reel player.
Usually I find various offerings with Jose Ferrer, who won the best actor Oscar in 1951 for Cyrano de Bergerac. I do not like the film nor his portrayal of the character. Imagine my surprise when I did a search on Prime and discovered BroadwayHD.com, another streaming producer. They had two black and white silent films, which is a little strange in that the joy of Cyrano is the spoken language. There was also an off-Broadway recording with bad audio, as well as a bad comedic version of the classic, BUT . . . There was a very nice production featuring Kevin Kline as Cyrano with Jennifer Garner as Roxanne the woman he loves and worships. I nearly gave a loud Whoop!
Basically, Cyrano is a poet and a swordsman with a large nose. The play opens in Paris, 1640, in the theatre of the Hôtel Burgundy. Cyrano has a “rapier” wit and does not let anyone ever comment about his nose. When he kicks a bad poet off the stage members of the audience loudly hand-on-sword complain. Cyrano responds with “I offer a collective challenge to you all . . . who shall be the first to die? Each one in turn, no crowding.” This is not just bravado, but cold hard facts. He knows he is the best. No one opening opposes him. The crowd is silenced. Later that evening he fights and defeats a hundred scoundrels.
Over the years since 1963 I have enjoyed the story and two Cyrano productions. I really liked the retelling by Steve Martin as a fire chief with a large nose who’s in love with Roxane, played by Daryl Hannah. There is a hilarious dueling scene with tennis rackets. For more information, please, visit IMDB – imdb.com/title/tt0093886/
French actor Gérard Depardieu portrayed the hero in 1990. He was excellent, but the film is shot in French, but wow it was a great production of color and splendor. For more information, please, visit IMDB – imdb.com/title/tt0099334/
New York Times Review from November 2, 2007 about Kevin Kline’s performance and Cyrano – Rapier Wit and a Nose for Poetry – “Sometimes a glass of moonshine is just what you need to take the sting out of life. David Leveaux’s disarming revival of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” which opened last night at the Richard Rodgers Theater, is a double shot of silvery hokum, sweet but surprisingly potent. And it goes down so easily, you’re drunk and misty-eyed before you know it.” – Ben Brantley
Kevin Kline is no Christopher Plummer, but he did an excellent Cyrano that I will watch and re-watch many times (three times so far). Two days later we canceled PBS (don’t worry we’ll watch the local broadcasts) and signed up for BroadwayHD ($8.99) a month.
p.s. Here is a review of a young actor’s program done two years ago at Tacoma Little Theatre featuring an updated version entitled Cyrano de Burger Shack – thesubtimes.com/2018/08/14/cyrano-de-burger-shack-and-young-actor-training/