The Wednesday Play: Playhouse 90 – The Comedian (1957)

One US anthology series that really did think it was doing a form of theatre was, as its name suggested, was Playhouse 90. Running from 1956 to 1960, these 133 90-minute productions featured some of the best actors of the day in stories of various genres adapted and written by the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald, Rod Serling, Aaron Spelling, Tad Mosel and Frank Gilroy. It was also the source of numerous movies, including Requiem for a Heavyweight, The St Valentine Day’s Massacre, Days of Wine and Roses and Judgement At Nuremberg, which saw Maximilian Schell originating the role he would play in the movie.

One of the show’s most prolific directors was John Frankenheimer, who was responsible for one of the show’s most famous plays: The Comedians. Written by Rod Serling from a novella by Ernest Lehman, the live production starred Mickey Rooney as an egomaniacal television comedian venting his hysterical wrath on his brother (Mel Tormé), with Edmond O’Brien as a writer driven to the brink of insanity by the mayhem. Kim Hunter played Rooney’s wife. And it’s this week’s play – enjoy!