The contrast between Joseph Losey's 1973 version of the classic play A Doll's House and the adaptation by Patrick Garland, also in 1973, is complex indeed. Both directors did Henrik Ibsen's play justice, through realistic sets, and their respective casts (for the most part). In this paper I will discuss each film's authentic sets and the enjoyable casting choices.
Every scene that is shot inside of a house in both Losey and Garland's films looks entirely realistic. The sets are so complex and give actors a real sense of freedom (as if it were their own homes). A great example is evident when Jane Fonda, in the role of Losey's Nora Helmer, is prancing about the house being her girlish self and seems completely comfortable in the space at all times and uninhibited by anything around her. Claire Bloom expresses this same natural and unrestrained attitude anytime she is onset in Garland's version.
Jane Fonda has many film credits to her name and has excelled in most any part she has ever tackled, I felt that this was true once again in A Doll's House; but when compared to Claire Bloom's performance, Jane's did not quite measure up. I feel that Bloom did an exceptionally better job than Fonda at capturing the spirit and character of Nora in Garland's film. Perhaps Bloom was able to deliver a superior performance because she had a better supporting cast, including Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins lit up the set anytime he was on camera and did a great job of bringing a loveable element to Torvald that we never see from David Warner in Losey's film. Warner seemed to always be annoyed or frustrated with Fonda when they shared scenes together. It was exhausting to see the couple with so much tension constantly between them and little relief.
In conclusion, both of these films were entertaining to watch, but due to acting performances, I would recommend Patrick Garland's version over Joseph Losey's.