“I spoke to Knight at a party four or five years ago. I told her I wished I could re-watch The Lie, a 1973 live-TV drama that was written by Ingmar Bergman and dealt with a stale upper-middle-class marriage. It was captured live and on videotape at the CBS Television Center on Beverly and Fairfax. Running 98 minutes, it aired on 4.24.73.
“Bergman’s Swedish teleplay, initially performed in ’70, was originally called Reservatet. The U.S. adaptation was directed by Alex Segal (no apparent relation). It wound up being nominated for five Emmy awards.
“Knight told me she’d never seen The Lie (captured on videotape but never re-broadcast), and didn’t know if it had been offered for rent or sale or anything. Apparently a cruddy-looking MUBI version was viewable not long ago.”
Last night I discovered a decent-looking, recently posted YouTube file of The Lie. It was only posted two months ago and has only been viewed 181 times as of today.
As far as Bergman-penned marital downers go, it’s excellent — okay, a little hesitant at first but it soon picks up steam, and the last 35 or 40 minutes are quite invasive and powerful.
Knight plays Anna, the well-tended, 30something wife of George Segal‘s Andrew, a moustachioed, slightly older architect. (In fact Knight and Segal were only born two years apart.) Anna and Andrew live a sedate but regimented and hollow life. Segal is vaguely unhappy about something he can’t put his finger on, and Anna is in the eighth year of an affair with Robert Culp, whom she was involved with before her marriage.
The Lie ends with a huge devastating argument between Anna and Andrew over infidelities and whatnot — a meltdown that leaves them both gutted.
The fact that The Lie included a discreet nude scene (i.e., Knight removing her nightgown, seen from the rear) was striking for mainstream television back then. Before the nude scene the presentation stops for a few seconds, and an announcer and a title card state that viewers should be aware that The Lie deals in mature subject matter, etc.
The costars include Victor Buono, William Daniels, Dean Jagger, Louise Lasser, Mary Ann Mobley, Elizabeth Wilson and Allan Arbus.
It’s definitely worth seeing.