Big Hairy Deal


I’m a silent film fan, and get a lot of rare flicks on DVD from the hardy and reliable archivists at Grapevine Video.

Grapevine’s list of “new” releases for October has just arrived. The company also deals in rare old talking pictures, and among them is the 1944 adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, directed by Alfred Santell and starring William Bendix. This eerie social drama of insults and class distinctions was made the same year that Bendix became a big radio sitcom star in The Life of Riley.

I’ve gotten several early films of theater classics, including the 1923 silent film version of O’Neill’s Anna Christie (starring Blanche Sweet) from Grapevine, and highly recommend their services. Just reading their product description is a course in film history. They know their stuff.

O’Neill, of course, was a longtime Connecticut resident. His family’s summer retreat, Monte Cristo Cottage, is in New London and is the setting of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. In nearby Waterford, the O’Neill Theater Center is named for him, and there’s a statue of O’Neill on the New London waterfront.