Anthony Perkins Sings
With his twisted smile and slightly awkward manner, Anthony Perkins was ideally cast in the rather strange, dark musical “Evening Primrose.” Based on John Collier’s short story and adorned with songs by the melodious Stephen Sondheim, “Evening Primrose” was produced in 1966 for a long forgotten TV series, ABC’s “Stage 67.” Lost for all these years, “Evening Primrose” has finally been released on DVD.â€¨
The story is essentially E.T.A. Hoffmann retooled for 20th century New York. Perkins plays Charles Snell, a poet who rejects the workaday world for his own kingdom of the imagination. Thinking he can find freedom by disappearing from society into the bowels of a big department store, Snell discovers that the store is already inhabited by a subculture of people who, for their own reasons, have taken refuge in the store’s dark corners. The twist is that those people have replicated the class system outside and rule their little domain through surveillance and fear. â€¨
The black and white drama has several fine cinematic touches, despite being produced on a modest budget. “Evening Primrose” is a reminder that interesting television has always been aired, even if such programs were a minority in the vast wasteland of network programming.