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t e l e v i s i o n

Susannah York as Anna
Alan Bates as Mario


Duel for Love
ABC's Armchair Theatre (I.T.A.), 18.vi.61

A romantic comedy by
Dario Niccodemi,
Translated and adapted by Robert Rietty

Designed by Voytek
Producer: Sydney Newman
Director: Philip Saville

Truth in a young girl's dreams

AT LAST Alan Bates sheds his leather jacket -- symbol of his touch character roles of the last three years. In "Duel for Love" he emerges as a flamboyant young romantic -- with frills on his shirt.
Not since "Look Back in Anger" started him on the downbeat path has Bates played a dashing young lover. As Mario in "Duel for Love" he sees a beautiful and rich girl, Anna (Susannah York) in the woods at daybreak. He follows her home. Anna slams in his face the high ornamental gates to her father's garden. But, undeterred, Mario climbs over.
"Nearer acquaintance confirms the beauty of the vision he's followed," said Alan. "But he doesn't intend giving away his feelings too fast.
Anna's situation, with dew still on the roses and hope in her heart, must mirror every young girl's dream. And Anna, provoking and relenting in turn, makes the most of it. Only when she hears the truth -- that the impetuous and handsome stranger is to fight a duel at seven -- does she soften a little towards him.
There are only two parts in this play by a poplar turn-of-the-century Italian writer, Dario Niccodemi. It is set in the lovely garden of a villa in Southern Italy. The translation and adaptation are by Robert Rietty. Philip Saville, the director, said: "The play's attraction today is in its style and remote romanticism. But 50 or 60 years ago, when first produced, its impact startled Italian theatre-goers."
Saville directed Susannah York in her first televised play two years ago. "She has what the part needs of Anna," he said, "a lucid coolness externally, and an inflammatory quality underneath.
Alan Bates has just ended a 14-month run in Harold Pinter's play "The Caretaker." He plans a motoring holiday in Spain. |||

Last Night's TV
by Clifford Davis
Daily Mirror, Monday, 19.vi.61

Susannah York and Alan Bates set the tiny screen ablaze last night with two sensitive performances in ITV's Armchair Theatre play, "Duel for Love."
A simple, romantic story here. The setting -- an Italian garden; the story -- two young people meeting for the first time and falling in love.
As lovers do, they teased and they joked. No one else appeared on the screen. No one else was needed. Philip Saville's direction and camerawork told everything with an unerring tenderness.
A memorable evening. |||

A note about Armchair Theatre:

Armchair Theatre came in several guises.  Called simply 'Armchair Theatre', it played weekly on the network.  In the Midlands and the North, it was billed as 'ABC Armchair Theatre', after its makers, the Associated-British Picture Corporation, which also produced "The Avengers".  As the plainer-named 'Armchair Theatre', it continued for many years under ABC's post-1968 London outlet, Thames.
The series, in any guise, was a different drama with different actors every week, and was the most popular ABC programme after 'The Avengers'.