November 26, 2008 10:19 AM
Priceless Dept.: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television has brought out a six-disc DVD anthology of the 1950s "Studio One" dramas—and it's a stunner.
The classic CBS series, if you're not familiar with it, presented a different live drama each week from 1948-58 (and was known as "Westinghouse Presents Studio One" during its run). As were several other live drama anthologies of the time, it was a proving ground for a number of future movie stars, among them Jack Lemmon, Eva Marie Saint, Sal Mineo, Lee Remick and Leslie Nielsen, to name just a few.
There are 17 dramas in the collection, which ranges chronologically from "The Medium" in 1948 to "The Arena" in 1956 and includes the famously rediscovered 1954 "Twelve Angry Men" production that inspired the 1957 motion picture and was for years feared lost.
For the most part, it's rich and fascinating stuff, well-chosen material that's intelligently scripted (imagine that!) and beautifully performed.
Who knew recordings of so many of the original live performances survived? Sure, they're kinescopes (copies filmed off of TV monitors during the broadcast) and are of varying degrees of visual quality, but these dramas nonetheless make a great collection to own, even in the high-def era. And the Betty Furness appliance commercials included with them are a quaint bonus.