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The opening title card reads Uncle Vanya, followed by a card stating "Franchot Tone and Marion Parsonnet present," then the official title card which reads "Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya Scenes of Country Life." Russian playwright and novelist Anton Pavlovich Chekhov's named is spelled "Chekov" onscreen. Actor-producer Franchot Tone starred in the role of "Dr. Astroff" in an off-Broadway production of the play in 1956, at which time he conceived of the idea of filming the stage production. According to a June 1956 New York Times article, Tone and co-producer Parsonnet met with television director John Goetz and, while the stage version was still playing, filmed it at Parsonnet's Long Island, NY studio, adding four more sets to the play's original four. According to the same article, Tone, Parsonnet and Goetz adapted the play from the English translation by Stark Young, who is credited onscreen.
Uncle Vanya marked Goetz's feature film debut. Following Goetz's onscreen director credit, a title card states "In Association with Franchot Tone." Several reviews listed Tone as the film's co-director. Uncle Vanya had a limited release in spring 1958. A May 1960 Los Angeles Times article stated that the film was opening in Los Angeles for the first time. In the article Tone indicated that he felt the shift away from serious art-house films in 1958 did not bode well for Uncle Vanya and so he withheld general distribution of it for two years. Although the film bears a copyright statement onscreen, it was not registered for copyright until 1984, when it was released on video. 1984 copyright records list the film's registration number as PA-287-670 and the claimant as Uncle Vanya Company, Inc. Actress Dolores Dorn-Heft, who portrayed "Elena," was married to Tone at the time of production.
The play ^Dyadya Vanya was a reworking by Chekhov of his earlier, failed play Leshy: Komediya v chetyryokh deystviyakh (The Wood Demon), first produced in November 1899. A popular play that has been staged repeatedly worldwide, Uncle Vanya was also adapted into a 1963 British Arthur Canter film production starring Michael Redgrave, Laurence Olivier and Rosemary Harris, directed by Stuart Burge, and a 1970 Russian production starring Innokenti Smoktunovsky and Sergei Bondarchuk, directed by Andrei Konchalovsky. Two British television versions were also produced, a 1970 BBC production starring Anthony Hopkins and Roland Culver, directed by Christopher Morahan, and a 1991 BBC/WNET production starring David Warner, Ian Holm and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, directed by Gregory Mosher. A British feature film produced by Channel Four Productions, Vanya on 42nd Street, was released in 1994 starring Julianne Moore and Wallace Shawn, direcetd by Louis Malle. That version featured actors in street clothes conducting an uninterrupted rehearsal of the play on a nearby bare stage.