Great news! London by Dickens is now available for purchase on DVD. And, as noted earlier, the disc contains a second title: Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Each program runs about twenty-five minutes.
This exciting new release is available exclusively from Connecticut based Creative Arts Television. Click here for details on how to order what may well be the freshest approach to Dickens ever attempted by film or television.
The two titles that comprise this DVD are universal in appeal. Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas know no boundaries of time or place or anything else. And yet they also evoke an age of television, and a New York, that are no more.
Both were broadcast on a Sunday morning on New York’s legendary Camera Three program; London by Dickens (live) on June 1, 1958 and A Child’s Christmas in Wales (on film) on December 24, 1961.
London by Dickens is a delightful and highly original montage of Dickens’s lesser known short writings. Sketches by Boz serves as its foundation, but it also draws upon The Uncommercial Traveller, Sketches of Young Couples, The Mudfog Papers and The Pic-Nic Papers. This is a side of Dickens that has rarely been touched on by film and television and the result is a highly impressionistic sketch of London life – which is precisely what Dickens himself set out to do!
It stars a very young Alan Bates who was appearing as Cliff Lewis on Broadway in John Osborne’s Look Back In Anger, a reprise of the role that made him a star in 1956 in his native England. It is one of his first television appearances and predates his 1960 film debut in The Entertainer.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales features Richard Burton who was appearing on Broadway in Camelot and had earlier starred in the film version of Look Back In Anger. It opens with a deeply moving meditation on Dylan Thomas’s life and then shifts to an equally moving reading of his best known work. As Mr. Burton tells us, it is “one little book hovering somewhere between poetry and prose” and it is surely the only work worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Dickens’s immortal Carol.
And think about it: With his Welsh roots and stunningly, supernaturally beautiful voice, was Richard Burton not born to read Dylan Thomas?
These programs may be half a century old, but they are not quaint artifacts nor are they out of place in our digitized widescreen world. Great writers and their words, like great actors, never die. As you will see, and hear, they are very much alive and well…