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
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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

1936: George Cukor

1954: Renato Castellani

1965: Val Drumm, Paul Lee

1968: Franco Zeffirelli

1976: Joan Kemp-Welch

1978: Alvin Rakoff

1993: Norman Campbell

1994: Alan Horrox

1996: Baz Luhrmann

2010: Dominic Dromgoole

2013: Carlo Carlei

2014: Don Roy King, David Leveaux


Adaptations

1961: West Side Story

1992: Efim Gamburg, Dave Edwards (animated)


Related

2015: Shakespeare Uncovered, Season 2, Episode 2


Romeo and Juliet
1936: George Cukor

The most immediately striking fact about the 1936 George Cukor version is that Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer are both considerably too old for their parts. Leslie Howard was 43 in 1936, and Norma Shearer was 34: while this might have played convincingly on stage, the camera is too exacting to allow this kind of age-shifting. A middle-aged pair of teen lovers doesn't quite work, and rather misses the point of the play. The formidable John Barrymore (age 54) plays Mercutio, and Basil Rathbone (age 44) plays Tybalt: they are also too old for their roles. While hardly a geriatric production of the play, part of its youthful zest is lost.

That (considerable) point aside, however, the performances are still remarkably good, and very subtly nuanced. The direction is clean; the plot outline never becomes murky. Leslie Howard's diction is clear and his emotional tone never descends into the sniveling angst one so often sees in Romeos of later ages; Shearer delivers a lot of emotional punch without descending into the howling maudlin that sometimes affects productions of this play. There's a seriousness about the delivery that seems neither as affected as the Zeffirelli nor as ironic and self-aware as the Campbell production. There are moments of humor, though they are not emphasized greatly.

The art direction is lavish, and occasionally reminiscent of the musical theater of the 1930s, complete with Busby Berkeley numbers for its dances (though with more decorous music), but never really excessive. The score is a patchwork of Italian Renaissance tunes (transformed much as in Respighi's “Ancient Airs and Dances”) and Tschaikovsky's venerable Romeo and Juliet ballet score. The fusion is a little difficult if you are used to these pieces on thier own terms, but the synthesis is not bad overall. All in all, a worthwhile and watchable treatment of the play, but constantly overlaid with the mannered delivery of the 1930s.


Abraham Montague : Howard Wilson

Apothecary : Ian Wolfe

Balthasar : Maurice Murphy

Benvolio: Reginald Denny

Capulet Guard-Escort : Fred Graham

Escalus: Conway Tearle

Friar John : John Bryan

Friar Laurence: Henry Kolker

Gregory Capulet : Anthony Kemble-Cooper

Juliet: Norma Shearer

Lady Capulet t: Violet Kemble Cooper

Lady Montague: Virginia Hammond

Lord Capulet: C. Aubrey Smith

Lord Montague: Robert Warwick

Mercutio’s Page : Anthony Marsh

Mercutio: John Barrymore

Nobleman : Charles Bancroft

Nobleman : Harold Entwistle

Nobleman : José Rubio

Nurse to Juliet: Edna May Oliver

Paris: Ralph Forbes

Peter: Andy Devine

Romeo: Leslie Howard

Rosaline: Katherine DeMille

Samson Capulet : Vernon Downing

Town Watch : Wallis Clark

Tybalt’s Page : Carlyle Blackwell Jr.

Tybalt: Basil Rathbone