Constance Cummings : TV in 1938! A True Pioneer!

TV in 1938! A True Pioneer!

i saw that TCM is having a mini movie tribute to Constance Cummings tomorrow, march 16, so i checked out what imdb has in the cummings file.

well, in her tv credits i saw an amazing citation. she's listed for the role of roxane in a 1938 TELEVISION production of Cyrano de Bergerac. can this be so? if it is, cummings was a true pioneer in the infant days of the boob tube. my computer gives me a "will not compute" message when i click on the title to see what information there might be on this early work.

so, does anyone have info about cummings and what she was doing on tv in 1938? in addition, why was tv doing programming like this? i didn't even know there was any broadcasting of this nature at that time. the earliest citations of broadcasts that i've heard of usually refer to transmission of a baseball game to a set being demonstated at the New York World's Fair in 1939.

there's a captivating story here if i can piece together enough information on the incident.

anyway, finding this obscure credit is one reason imdb amazes me all the time!

Re: TV in 1938! A True Pioneer!

Like you, I assumed this to be an error. However, according to Wikipedia, the BBC began REGULAR television broadcasting in late 1936 (after four years of non-scheduled programming). That being the case, it certainly would have been easier to broadcast an existing play rather than create and write an original program.

So, as unlikely as it seems, apparently it IS true. I would like to see this particular program, not only because "Cyrano" is one of my favorite plays, but also to see a very young James Mason as Christian.

Re: TV in 1938! A True Pioneer!

iirc (from prior reading), Leslie Banks of Most Dangerous Game and Man who Knew Too Much played Cyrano.

I met in England a few yrs ago a gentleman in his 70's whose father worked for the bbc in the 30's, they had a tv in their home in that decade and he could remember certain plays on tv he'd seen.

There were many hour-long adaptations of stage plays and there were some broadcasts from West End thtrs of an act of a current production, or occasionally the whole thing (ended partly because of union protests).

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Re: A full 24 hours with Constance Cummings on 8/24 TCM

This actress has been under the radar for me until this morning when I saw the first 3 films of her 24 hour tribute on TCM. What a gorgeous and talented woman she was. I need to park my carcass on the couch today and watch many more of her films. She's really quite amazing !

Re: A full 24 hours with Constance Cummings on 8/24 TCM

I like her very much - and have spent part of today watching the TCM films - Attorney for the Defense, The Guilty Generation, Broadway Thru a Keyhole, Night After Night and American Madness. I own Doomed Cargo - and have seen it many times.

I'm amazed they didn't include Blithe Spirit in the tribute - perhaps they felt they show it enough.

Cummings is hard to get a fix on - in American Madness, Attorney for the Defense and Broadway Thru a Keyhole, The Guilty Generation, she 5b4 is as sweet and young and ingenue-like as possible - in movies like Night after Night, Doomed Cargo and Blithe Spirit, she has a very strong independence and stubbornness.

Some of these movies are STRANGE - particularly Broadway Thru a Keyhole and Night after Night (with its amazing cast of George Raft, Mae West, Alison Skipworth). I really can't think of a character similar to that played by Cummings in Night after Night - in all of movie history - poetic, haughty, physically passionate, realistic - it's a very strange mix.

In appearance, I would describe her as quite attractive - but not really pretty. And her figure is unlike most stars of the day - who tended to be very lean, lithe - Cummings is not soft and chubby, but she's fuller in the bust and hips, and just wider than most other stars. I don't find her convincing as a chorus girl/headline dancer/singer in Broadway Thru a Keyhole - her singing voice is ok, she can move to a tune - but she's really not a singer/dancer - and we're used to such superb examples in movies of that era.





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Re: A full 24 hours with Constance Cummings on 8/24 TCM

I was able to catch 3 of Constance's movies during her day on TCM. Haunted Honeymoon, The Mind Reader, and Movie Crazy.

All very good and enjoyable movies. I really liked Movie Crazy with Harold Lloyd, that one was a classic!

I do agree that Constance was not a raving beauty, but she had a unique and attractive look about her, as well as being a fine actress.

Well deserved tribute by TCM to a lesser known star.
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