By Delbert Mann, edited with Ira Skutch
Former DGA president Delbert Mann was the first of the generation of TV directors to make a successful trek West to Hollywood, turning his landmark TV adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s Marty into an equally affecting movie that won him a DGA Award, an Oscar for best director, and the Palme d’Or at Cannes. In this engaging and witty memoir, he fondly recalls those buccaneering days in the studios of the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and producer Fred Coe’s legendary Playhouse 90, working with the cream of New York acting talent (imagine Walter Matthau as Iago), alongside live TV contemporaries such as Arthur Penn, Sidney Lumet, and Franklin J. Schaffner. Live TV, writes Mann, lasted only a decade but “was unique...an unprecedented, and never-to-be-repeated opportunity to work with young actors, writers, and directors to learn and practice their craft in professional but pressured circumstances.” As he says, he was lucky to live through the whole era. Mann’s account of the insane demands of live TV—the timing, the coordination of mechanics and performance, the liveness—is affable, witty, thorough, and wryly nostalgic, as befits a wide-open, tabula rasa world now lost to us.
Review written by John Patterson.