American Experience (1988– )

Eugene O'Neill: A Documentary Film (21 Mar. 2006)

TV Episode   |  TV-PG   |    |  Documentary, Biography, History

The life and career of American playwright Eugene O'Neill.


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2 February 2012 | MartinHafer
| Yes, the man was scum....but he was gifted nonetheless.
I was confused by one of the reviews for this episode of "The American Experience". Instead of reviewing the quality of this biography, they seemed to be reviewing Eugen O'Neill--the man. While I could completely agree that he was a selfish jerk who deserved to be beaten with a dead halibut, you cannot completely write off this show just because O'Neill was in love with himself as well as a completely horrible person. Yes, he WAS a horrible person--barely someone I would even call a man (due to his great willingness to completely abandon his wives and kids--without having ANY further contact with them). But, you cannot completely write him off due to his great talents and because of that "American Experience" SHOULD have made this film.

What makes this film interesting is WHY. Why was O'Neill a horrible person? What about his childhood made him this disconnected from his fellow man? And, what about all this emotional turmoil actually helped him make his great plays? After all, O'Neill DID have a crazy childhood and it really became a great theme throughout his best plays--family dysfunction and alienation. All this made the film interesting. Another aspect of this biography that was interesting (though I am not sure if I liked it or not) was having some of the premier actors of the day acting out O'Neill--doing monologues as O'Neill. So, the likes of Christopher Plummer, Al Pacino, Liam Neeson and others act out O'Neill's inner struggles.

All in all, yet another very good episode of the life of a famous American. It creates great respect for O'Neill's work without whitewashing his MANY deficiencies. Well worth seeing and interesting.

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Plot Summary


Documentary | Biography | History


Release Date:

21 March 2006



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