A Paley Center Screening Series in Association with AMPAS

Noël Coward on Television

Mar 10 – Apr 18, 2010
12:00 AM
Los Angeles

Wednesdays to Sundays at 12:30 pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

Noël Coward on early TV with Mary Martin, Lauren Bacall, Trevor Howard, Gig Young, and many others

The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles is proud to present a special five-part screening series of Noël Coward’s television work as part of a joint celebration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences touring exhibition, Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward

Coward on Television
By the time television arrived, Coward was already a legendary name on London and New York stages as an actor, writer, producer, director, and composer. The new medium was only too eager to adapt his witty and sophisticated works. As early as 1939, a version of his comedy Hay Fever was produced for NBC. In time, television not only allowed for multiple interpretations of Coward’s plays but gave him a chance to perform some of his best-known works for an American audience, including his supernatural farce Blithe Spirit, and, in a more uncharacteristic turn, This Happy Breed, playing the head of a middle-class South London family. The variety show format helped introduce Coward’s talents as a songwriter and singer to a whole new generation, notably in his teaming with Mary Martin in Together with Music. And, whether talking to Edward R. Murrow or Dick Cavett, he was also a most winning interview subject with his acerbic observations and droll storytelling manner.

Ford Star Jubilee: Together with Music
March 10 to 14; 12:30 pm 
In his television debut, Noël Coward teams with Mary Martin for a no-frills evening of song and patter. Coward, who also served as director and writer, performs some of his wittiest compositions, including “Uncle Harry” and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” Letting his hair down, he tributes his costar’s roots by singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” then joins her for a medley including “Anything Goes” and “Shall We Dance?” With commercials. (1955; 90 minutes)

Ford Star Jubilee: Blithe Spirit
March 17 to 21; 12:30 pm
Noël Coward directs himself in this television performance of his famed stage comedy. As writer Charles Condomine, he faces a supernatural dilemma when the spirit of his late first wife, Elvira (Lauren Bacall), materializes, determined to woo him away from his current spouse, Ruth (Claudette Colbert). Mildred Natwick appears as dotty spiritualist Madame Arcati. (1956; 75 minutes)

Producers’ Showcase: Tonight at 8:30
March 24 to 28; 12:30 pm
Otto Preminger directs and introduces a trio of short Coward plays, each starring Ginger Rogers, in her television debut. In Red Peppers, Rogers and Martyn Green play bickering music hall entertainers. In Still Life, the playlet that inspired the classic film Brief Encounter, Trevor Howard (who starred in the movie as well) and Rogers portray two middle-age people who begin an extramarital affair after a chance meeting at a railway café. Shadow Play finds Rogers and Gig Young in a surreal combination of drama and music, as a married couple facing a breakup and dreaming of their happier days. With commercials. (1954; 90 minutes)

Ford Star Jubilee: This Happy Breed
March 31 to April 4; 12:30 pm
This adaptation of Noël Coward’s wartime tribute to English resilience follows the lives of various members of one middle-class, South London family during a twenty-year period, from 1919 to 1939. Coward, shedding his usual urbane mannerisms, stars as the head of the household, Frank Gibbons. The cast includes Edna Best and Roger Moore. (1956; 90 minutes)

Cowardly Delights  
April 7 to 11; 12:30 pm
Small World
—At this home in Jamaica, Coward answers questions from host Edward R. Murrow and converses via satellite with actress Siobhan McKenna and author James Thurber. (1959; 10 minutes)
What’s My Line?—In this segment from the popular game show, Coward shows up as the mystery guest. (1964; 6 minutes)
Androcles and the Lion—In two sequences from this original musical, Coward performs a pair of Richard Rodgers numbers, “The Emperor’s Thumb” and “Don’t Be Afraid of an Animal.” (1967; 10 minutes)
The Dick Cavett Show—Sir Noël is interviewed shortly after receiving his knighthood. (1970; 25 minutes)

Camera Three: “Mad about the Boy” Noël Coward: A Celebration
April 14 to 18; 12:30 pm
This two-part tribute to Coward, described by the New York Times as  “marvelously witty and entertaining,” features performances by George Rose, Jean Marsh, Carole Shelley, and Kristoffer Tabori. (1976; 55 minutes)


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