A Season in Hell (1964 film)

A Season in Hell is a 1964 Australian TV movie broadcast on the ABC. It was directed by Henri Safran from a script by Patricia Hooker and was shot at the ABC's Gore Hill Studios.[1] It originally aired as an episode of Wednesday Theatre. A search of their website suggests the National Archives may hold a copy, with running time listed as 1:16:22.

"A Season in Hell"
Wednesday Theatre episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 12
Directed byHenri Safran
Teleplay byPatricia Hooker
Original air date24 March 1965
Running time80 mins

Running time was one hour and 20 minutes.[2]

It was filmed twice for TV in Australia.[3]


The relationship between Arthur Rimbaud (Alan Bickford) and Paul Verlaine (Alistair Duncan). Rimbaud arrives i Paris age 16 and in three years shocks and revolts all who knows him.[4][5]


  • Alan Bickford as Arthur Rimbard
  • Alistair Duncan as Paul Verlaine
  • Marlon Johns as Madam Verlaine


Patricia Hooker says the friendship of the two men always fascinated her, but felt it would be necessary to study in France to make the story authentic. When working on Concord of Sweed Sounds with Henri Safran, the director became interested in her idea of a play about Rimbaud. Hooker said, "With his help it was possible to collect the information I needed, much of which had never been translated from the French."[6]


The television critic for the Sydney Morning Herald thought the play "was thoughtfully and capably built on known episodes" from the two poets' lives but "suffered by its very episodic character, as well as from the impossibility of supplying several essentials to true story' s full realisation." He added "if the play was a gallant but incomplete effort, its production by Henri Safran was beautifully assured and sensitive, its camera work expert, while an excellent cast was headed by the impressive performances of Alastair Duncan as Verlaine and Alan Bickford as Rimbaud."[7]

The Bulletin said "Hooker’s script was essentially a duologue with vignettes, and, although too episodic and uneven in its construction and development, incorporated the visions and images of the poet into the context of the relationship with considerable success only occasionally did Rimbaud step out of the play and declaim. Henri Safran’s production had style and atmosphere. He suggested the deliberately underwritten homosexual tensions by inference rather than by presentation, and he evoked the claustrophobic relationship by isolating the two poets in tight two-shots."[8]


  1. "WHAT TO STAY HOME FOR..." The Canberra Times. 22 March 1965. p. 23. Retrieved 5 June 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "WEDNESDAY". The Canberra Times. 39 (11, 110). 22 March 1965. p. 24. Retrieved 20 March 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. Nigel Muir (3 December 1967). "Edinburgh orders Aust. play". The Sydney Morning Herald. London via Google News Archive Search.
  4. "Season of the hellbent". The Canberra Times. 22 March 1965. p. 23. Retrieved 5 June 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "A fine Season". The Canberra Times. 26 March 1965. p. 15. Retrieved 5 June 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "Sydney Woman's drama of Paris". Sydney Morning Herald. 15 March 1965. p. 13.
  7. "Sydney Author's TV Play". Sydney Morning Herald. 2 April 1964. p. 5.
  8. The bulletin, John Haynes and J. F. Archibald, 1880, retrieved 2 April 2019

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