New Television Workshop Collection

New Television Workshop Collection Program MaterialsNew Television

Video clip of Houses that Are Left, The

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Houses that Are Left, The

1 videocassette of 1 (30 min.) : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1 videocassette of 1 (30 min.) : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
See the record for "New Television, Episode 607 (1990)" for additional descriptions of videos containing this work.

Copyright Date:

Copyright Holder:
S. Silver

Silver, Shelly

It was broadcast as Episode 607 of the 1990 season of "New Television." In addition to this approximately 30-minute broadcast-length version of the work, a 60-minute full-length version of the work and a short trailer were created.

Includes two 3/4" screening copies of the piece. See the record for "New Television, Episode 607 (1990)" for additional descriptions of videos containing this work.

"The Houses that Are Left" was written and directed by Shelly Silver and produced in association with New Television. This dramatic work concerns two sets of characters, the living and the dead, and examines the influence they have over one another. Anne and Chris, whose world is filmed in black and white, are girlhood friends who belong to the "land of the living." At the opening of the work, Chris is arguing heatedly at a pay phone, denying culpability for an undefined act. Chris comes to stay with Anne and her husband Bob, and finds work doing market research in the form of "man on the street" video interviews. Anne, increasingly dissatisfied with her job, quits and serves as Chris' cameraperson. The two friends are alternately intimate and tense with one another. Their closeness is not romanticized, and we see that their relationship is not at a loss for conflict. Meanwhile, another story is unfolding. In a small room, in color, two men and a woman prepare for an assignment. Their talk is gruff and recalls the hardened professionalism of hard-boiled detectives. As the story advances, we realize they are dead and their duty is to watch over Anne, Chris, and their friends. They do so via a video monitor, in case one of them should die. They are joined by a young boy and a woman, Patty, who comes to them after being stabbed in the back. As Patty participates in this mysterious surveillance, we learn that she has a hidden agenda. Confiding in "the Kid," she begins a campaign of intervention and malice in Chris' life. Patty claims that Chris is responsible for her death and sets out to drive her to the brink of madness and suicide, sending messages to her through broadcast mediums, such as the television set in Chris' room or a boom box carried by a youth in a subway station. Could Patty's murder be the event referred to in Chris's phone call at the beginning of the work and the troubling secret she has left undisclosed? The pieces seem to fit, and yet elements of Patty's story are contradictory, suspicious, and unconvincing. At one point, Patty scrambles the results of the market research interviews, leading to a confrontation between Chris and Anne. At last, the other dead recognize Patty's scheme, which is revealed in secret diary entries. Yet the mystery remains unresolved in this work, which recalls film noir with its overlying themes of melodrama and ambiguity. "The title...refers to a statement by Gustave Flaubert suggesting that what is most telling about a historical period is not what it leaves behind, but what it tears down or loses." -- WGBH press release

Silver, Shelly
Kraus, John (Director of Photography)

New Television

New York State Council on the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts

Blazer, Judy (Chris)
Low, Maggie (Anne)
Barron, Doug (Bob)
Maxwell, Larry (David)
Valk, Kate (Patty)
Raymond, Quinn (The Kid)
Coppola, Sam (Lou)
Thomas, Isa (Mimi)
Raymond, Bill (Hal)
Neals, Felice (Chris's Boss)
Reibach, Ted (Anne's Coworker)
Tachuk, Ralph (Anne's Boss)
Smith, Michael (Man at Party)
Grafenstine, Stephen M. (Man on Wall Street)
Rice, D. Morgan (Man at South Ferry)
Diaz, Raphael (Man at Subway)



See Also:
New Television, Episode 607 (1990)

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