The Late George Apley (1944)
John P. Marquand and George S. Kaufman
Based on John p. Marquand's prize-winning best-selling novel and set in the early days of the 20th Century, The Late George Apley investigates the double-edged sword of family honor and tradition among the upper classes of Boston's Brahmin set.
George Apley is a well-respected patriarch and a Harvard graduate who has carefully cultivated his fortune, his tastes, and his family relations. But, the times change, and faced with two impending marriages that distress him—both his daughter and son want to marry outside the circle of their class and education—Apley finds that he is not nearly as flexible nor as happy as he always believed. He discovers in the end that he is a product of his world—a world whose values he begins to doubt--and that his world is vanishing before his eyes.
About the Play:
The adaptation of Marquand's novel was suggested to Kaufman by his frequent producer, Max Gordon. As Marquand himself put it, "Mr. Kaufman and I are perfect complements to each other. He knows nothing about Boston and I know nothing about playwriting." Still, the two writers collaborated well and Kaufman directed the show with particular finesse, yielding one of Kaufman's biggest hits of the 1940s. A fine comedy of manners, it provided Leo G. Carroll with a career-making performance as Apley and remains an excellent social comedy, with traces of Henry James, Upstairs, Downstairs, and Edith Wharton. A particular effective play for a cast of experienced character actors.
The Late George Apley opened at the Lyceum Theatre on November 21, 1944; it ran 357 performances. It was made into a 1947 film starring Ronald Colman as Apley. It still has not had the professional revival it deserves, although the Acting Company presented a reading in 1999 with Edward Herrmann as Apley.
8 men, 8 women. One interior.
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A particular effective comedy of manners for a cast of experienced character actors.