1980's


EDITH WHARTON: LOOKING BACK (1981, TV Film, PBS Great Performances)

  "well-played by John Cullum" - Bob Lundegaard, Minneapolis Tribune, 11/81


Edith Wharton's SUMMER (1981, TV Film, PBS Great Performances)

Summer is "about a woman confronted with difficult choices between imperfect options.  Charity's gentle adoptive father (John Cullum), upon the death of his wife, offers the girl the security of marriage. 'Make the best... and this may be where you belong,' comprises his wise if prosaic philosophy.  But Charity is a risk taker...  [T]he production is crowded with lush atmospherics and well-rounded characterizations." - Harry F. Waters, Newsweek, 11/2/81


CARL SANDBURG: ECHOES AND SILENCES (1982, TV Film, PBS American Playhouse)

"Cullum stars in a dual role -- as the narrator and as Sandburg, reciting poetry, telling anecdotes and singing folk songs.  The biographical portrait includes actual film footage of Sandburg and interviews with Sandburg's daughter, Helga Sandburg Crile... Mrs. Crile, an author and biographer, said she liked Cullum the first time she met him during the production... 'The features... were right. And then he spoke, and his voice rang true.'  The genius of Cullum and director Perry Miller Adato is that 'they did not look for impersonation of my dad's voice and body gestures,' Mrs. Crile added.  'That might have been fatal.  It is an interpretation.  The power of my father's words is revealed.'  In the last half-hour of the film, Cullum recreates An Evening With Carl Sandburg in a one-man show at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.  'His rendition of A Bird in a Cage there was so nostalgic, it made me cry,' Mrs. Crile said."  - Gerry Segroves, Knoxville News-Sentinel, 2/28/82

"[T]he grand finale is Cullum's half-hour recreation of a free form lecture typical of the ones Sandburg gave on college campuses.  Cullum has a marvelous, resonant voice full of Sandburg's lifeblood.  The now famous Chicago poem, published in 1914, is read with particular force, as Cullum gets right to the marrow of Sandburg's tribute to that broad-shouldered city... Also examined is Sandburg's career as a newspaperman, his struggles in writing the biography of Abraham Lincoln and his joyful renditions of  the folksongs he loved to sing and strum.  In the later instance, Cullum's powerful voice is a far better tool than the scratchy pipes with which Sandburg had to make do.  Cullum obviously is enjoying himself immensely in this role.  With irresistible enthusiasm, he has put Sandburg within painless reach of the masses." - [no byline], Dallas Morning News, 3/2/82

[Director Perry Miller Adato won the 1983 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary/Actuality for Carl Sandburg: Echoes and Silences.]


THE DAY AFTER (1983, TV Film, International Feature Film)

"What ABC has in its favor is a quality director in [Nicholas] Meyer ("Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn"), a caring producer in Robert Papazian ("Crisis at Central High") and a fine cast in [Jason] Robards, JoBeth Williams, Bibi Besch, John Lithgow, John Cullum and Steve Guttenberg." - [no byline], Los Angeles Times, 9/1/82

"[S]trong performances from an excellent cast headed by Jason Robards are an effective diversion.  John Cullum, Steve Guttenberg, John Lithgow and Bibi Besch make exceptional contributions." - Tom Green, USA Today, 11/18/83

"It is indeed strong stuff, with the excellent cast keeping it undiluted... It demands both guts and social conscience in the watching, but no thinking citizen of the world should avoid it." - Judith Crist, TV Guide, 11/19-25/1983

" John Cullum slowly emerges as the center of the film's spirit. When his character dies, in a manner that is just as arbitrary as the nuclear attack, it echoes the earlier deaths and is deeply disheartening. The understanding of what such a war would do to life doesn't come right away, and that is the point the movie is trying to make." - Douglas Pratt, The DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter (reviewing the laser disc)

CYRANO DE BERGERAC  (1984 Syracuse & Atlanta, 1985-86 National Tour)

"John Cullum's Cyrano bestrides each scene like a Colossus, revealing the full range of emotions raging inside this epic figure. Wit, disdain at the cowardice of his enemies, self-consciousness about his wretched quirk of nature, his ridiculous nose which constantly rocks his self-esteem -- all these facets Cullum reveals with unerring skill. Above all, however, it is his unswerving, heartfelt and lifelong passion for the lovely Roxane that constantly captures us and melts our sensibilities. We really feel with this man who thinks love is closed to him because of his imagined ugliness." William West, Syracuse Post-Standard, 1/7/84

"Cullum's a gallant and witty Cyrano...Cullum's mellifluous voice is like an orchestra as it rises and falls, taunts and teases, yearns and burns with desire for his beloved. His every movement is purposeful as he glides and gambols with impish delight up and down the spectacular 36-tiered stage..." Paula Crouch, 'Cyrano de Bergerac' triumphs. John Cullum leads superb cast in poetic Alliance production, Atlanta Journal & Constitution, 9/7/84

"The Edwin Booth Encomium for Old-Time Acting Excellence: To John Cullum, who proved a Cyrano of all seasons in what stands...as the finest single performance ever offered at the Carpenter Center. By pulling all of the long-nosed Cyrano's contradictions into one larger-than-life and gloriously appealing human being, Cullum made the theatrical embers of the 19th century -- that era of the great actor -- burst into flame on a late 20th century stage." Roy Proctor, Richmond (VA) News Leader, 5/1/86 (recap of the 1985-86 touring season)

"The recent Royal Shakespeare Company version of "Cyrano de Bergerac" has been bested... Rostand's impossibly romantic hero, the noble Cyrano, a man whose eloquence is mocked by the size of the nose, is played by John Cullum in a performance of dazzling charm. Bending the brim of his plumed hat over the peninsula of his nose as he advances his arguments, Cullum has such a good high time in the beginning moments of the play that he's irresistible. His attitude alone sweeps us with him, carries us through the somewhat clotted exposition as though it were an outline. So secure and certain is he, nothing could possibly stand in his way, nothing, that is, except the awful force of unrequited love. When Cullum gets to the hurt in Cyrano's soul -- the lifelong love he has for Roxane which she has sorely mistaken and casually demeaned -- the ache is in his voice, his eyes, his movement." Kevin Kelly, Boston Globe, 11/21/85


MARIE (1985, Feature Film)

"[T]he film builds to the courtroom battle in which Marie [Sissy Spacek] contests her dismissal from office by Governor Blanton as unfair and politically motivated.  Among cinematic examples of courtroom volleys, this one ranks high..." [Cullum and Fred Thompson (Marie's real-life attorney) squared off as the attorneys at the trial.] - Roger Donaldson, The Magill Movie Guide


THE BOYS IN AUTUMN  (1986, Broadway)

"It's great to have George C. Scott and John Cullum back on Broadway! Scott is wonderful and Cullum is winning and the two of them high-kicking set my heart dancing!" Katie Kelly, WABC-TV, 5/1/86

"That the evening is enjoyable is due to the enormous charm of George C. Scott and John Cullum as Huck and Tom....[A]t certain points both men drop the masks age has given them and their warmth for each other fills the theatre." Howard Kissel, Women's Wear Daily, 5/1/86

"Of course it is always a pleasure to see Cullum and Scott on stage individually. The stagily quirky Cullum and the stagily truculent Scott make a most agreeable double act." Clive Barnes, NY Post, 5/1/86

"This plausibility is enhanced by masterly acting. Cullum ingratiatingly wheedles, brays and whines as Sawyer. As Huck, Scott combines the stern propriety of the convert to civilization with the lone wolf's fearsome force of nature." William A. Henry III, Time Magazine, 5/12/86

SHENANDOAH (1989, Broadway Revival)

"Buoyed by John Cullum's resonant performance in the central role, 'Shenandoah' has returned briefly to Broadway to demonstrate anew the virtues that made it a surprise hit nearly 15 years ago." John Beaufort, Christian Science Monitor, 8/15/89

"Cullum has grown into the role, with his craggy buzzard looks and his subtly shaded baritone." Linda Winer, NY Newsday, 8/9/89

"John Cullum is still in strong voice and his lofty sentiments ring throughout the house." Don Nelson, NY Daily News, 8/9/89

"Any production of [Shenandoah] demands a leading actor who crackles with the craggy machismo of a stubborn frontiersman. John Cullum, who reprises his original Tony Award-winning performance, fits the bill perfectly. In Mr. Cullum's detailed, vocally forceful performance, Charlie is thunderously willful, maddeningly superstitious and hot-tempered, but also strong, caring and likable." Stephen Holden, NY Times, 8/9/89

"Anyone not pleased by the total conviction and passion of Cullum's sterling performance would have to be dull indeed. Charlie Anderson gave Cullum the role of his career, and Cullum gave Charlie Anderson a performance that transcends the vehicle it is driving. Cullum is an actor tending to broad, even grandiloquent effects, and here they are made heartrendingly appropriate, while his throbbing baritone voice lifts the music up from a level of the commonplace ballad into a heroic anthem." Clive Barnes, NY Post, 8/9/89

"What works especially well, now as fourteen years ago, is John Cullum's Charlie Anderson. Cullum can sing as lustily and clearly as any baritone on Broadway and beyond, he has looks that are both rugged and quirkily sensitive, he is now of the right age and properly weatherbeaten, and oh, my, he acts. He goes for the big effects but with sensibly simple means, and he can always convey another layer of something else, something more. He can pull out all the stops without losing inner control, or be reined-in and still while nevertheless making the little that transpires transcend. Why he hasn't done more in our musical theater - why, for instance, he has never played Sweeney Todd - I cannot imagine; he is of the company of John Raitt and Alfred Drake." John Simon, New York Magazine, 8/21/89

Back to Reviews listing
  

Home | Basic Facts | Biography | Credits | Recordings | Reviews   
Interviews
| Gallery | Current | Links | Guestbook | Site Info