Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
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All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Hamlet
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Pericles
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
Shakespeareana

Available versions

1909: Charles Kent, J. Stuart Blackton

1935: William Dieterle, Max Reinhardt

1968: Peter Hall

1981: Elijah Moshinsky

1982: Joseph Papp, Emile Ardolino

1996: Adrian Noble

1999: Michael Hoffman

2010: Bo Bergstrom

2014: Dominic Dromgoole

2014: Julie Taymor


Adaptations

1992: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Animated)

2005: ShakespeaRe-Told: A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Related

2015: Shakespeare Uncovered, Season 2, Episode 4


A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1935: William Dieterle, Max Reinhardt

This is, like most of these films, something of a mixed bag. The acting ranges from the good to the rather shaky, but it’s mostly in the positive column.

Still, it captures with a unique vision something of the magic of the play. Its extraordinary use of textural effects in black and white give it a remarkable visual richness for its age. The cinematography by Hal Mohr won the first and only Oscar ever awarded on a write-in, and it’s well deserved. There are a number of notable actors in this production, not least among them Victor Jory, Olivia de Havilland, Joe E. Brown, and James Cagney. In addition we have a very young Mickey Rooney as a boyish Puck, with a disconcerting and insane-sounding laugh.

Perhaps more than any of the other productions, this one is dominated by music. Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who was to go on to become one of the leading composers of film scores until his death in 1957, began his film career here, by adapting Felix Mendelssohn’s occasional music for the play (which shows up in several other film versions as well). At least one piece of the film (starting at about 100 minutes into the film) is almost pure ballet, combining music and dance in a way that’s rather evocative of a black-and-white rendition of some of the more serious parts of Disney’s Fantasia. It suggests not only the wonder of the story, but also the collision of light and dark themes that are implicit in the play.

There is nothing here that should offend against even the standards of a G rating. Some parts of it may seem to drag for impatient students attuned primarily to action adventure films, but with a little time its peculiarities become familiar and its charms dominate. Definitely worth seeing.


Bottom: James Cagney

Changeling Prince: Sheila Brown

Cobweb: Helen Westcott

Demetrius: Ross Alexander

Egeus: Grant Mitchell

Epilogue: Arthur Treacher

Fairie Attending Titania: Nini Theilade

Flute: Joe E. Brown

Helena: Jean Muir

Hermia: Olivia de Havilland

Hippolyta: Verree Teasdale

Lysander: Dick Powell

Moth: Fred Sale

Mustard-Seed: Billy Barty

Oberon: Victor Jory

Pease-Blossom: Katherine Frey

Philostrate: Hobart Cavanaugh

Puck: Mickey Rooney

Quince: Frank McHugh

Snout: Hugh Herbert

Snug: Dewey Robinson

Starveling: Otis Harlan

Theseus: Ian Hunter

Titania: Anita Louise