The Welsh drunkard poet Dylan Thomas never made it to old age, so he never got to “rage against the dying of the light” as his most famous poem exhorts one to do. Instead, Thomas basically flicked off the light himself–enraged certainly, and drunker than Faulkner and Fitzgerald combined. He did not go gentle–he went vomiting in a hospital–but he did go early, at age 39, after a binge at a Greenwich Village tavern.
You wouldn’t think the subject would make good content for a TV show, but the BBC has its instincts. Poets are rarely stars and drunks are hard to watch. But working with the lovely yet commanding lilt of the poet’s Wales-whipped voice, actor Tom Hollander nails the Thomas role–roiling, grandiose and always marinating in shame. At least the movie is short, like Dylan Thomas’ life. It’s worth watching, if only to visit New York City in 1953. A Poet in New York airs on BBC America, Wed. Oct. 29, 8 pm.