Based on the play by American writer Tennesse Williams, this 1973 television film adaptation follows the home life of a small American family in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression. Amanda Wingfield, and her two grown up children, Tom and Laura, were left by their father years ago, a man who “fell in love with long distances.” They now share a small first floor apartment in St Louis. Laura suffered from an illness as a child that left her with a limp and an inferiority complex. Tom longs to escape his mothers constant reminiscing of the past and her often mean and spiteful ways. Amanda often talks about her life in “Blue Mountain” in the South, and about her gentlemen callers that she would receive. She often harps on to Laura and Tom about prospective gentlemen callers for Laura, and even persuades Tom to invite someone from the warehouse he works at for dinner.
Since the plot takes place in only one setting, the small apartment, it is vital to get the props and set design spot on. This is the main thing that this film gets right. The cramped apartment has the look of a home that is trying to appear expensive and fancy but is actually a cheap knock-off. Amanda aspired for greatness for her children, however this is the best she could do for them in the bad economic circumstances. The 1930’s, compared to the so called “Roaring 20’s” was a lot less glamorous and glitzy, the so called “depression era” and this is portrayed perfectly in the prop, costume and set design.
Another main negative is the plot itself. Although suitable for the stage, it is far too simple and dull for a film performance. The production team added parts to the original play in order to make it long enough for a film. Although these parts are not noticeable unless you have actually read the play, there is not enough to the plot to make an interesting film. Of course, it’s not true that if you have only one setting for a film it’s dull. Just look at Cube, Rope and Buried. However, in order to carry this off and make it a decent film. you also need an interesting, well developed plot that will immerse the reader and entertain, and this is something that The Glass Menagerie does not have.