Filmed as part of the American Film Theatre Collection, in which producer Ely Landau directly filmed stage productions of classic American plays, this adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's 1947 Broadway play is directed by John Frankenheimer ('The French Connection', 'The Exorcist'). Set in 1912, it follows one night at the dingy 'Last Chance Saloon' run by Harry Hope (Fredric March). Every year on Hope's birthday, a motley collection of derelicts gather and await the arrival of Hickey (Lee Marvin), who always buys them a few drinks and entertains them with stories of his adventures. But this year, Hickey has got it into his head to convince everyone to shed their foolish dreams and face up to the lives they have. The mood in the saloon shifts as Hickey's convictions begin to affect the other patrons, including the resigned Larry Slade (Robert Ryan) and his impressionable young companion Don Parritt (Jeff Bridges). Anger builds, and eventually Hickey finds himself facing up to a few truths of his own, including a revelation about his wife and the iceman.