Friday, January 16, 2009

Which is the Merchant here? And which The Shrew?

Merchants of Venice. Dir. Various. Perf. Various. Various Years. Various Formats.
The Tamings of the Shrews. Dir. Various. Perf. Various. Various Years. Various Formats.

The results came in on the poll about which play(s) / film(s) to cut from the Shakespeare and film syllabus.  No one wanted to cut Richard III or Henry V; the votes were almost right down the middle for cutting either The Merchant of Venice or The Taming of the Shrew.

So I kept them both and added The Tempest.

I know, I know. The whole point was to streamline the syllabus to make room for additional works.  And I've added works without subtracting any.  But I couldn't not have Kiss me, Kate.  It's just such a marvelous musical!  And I really couldn't not present my students with the extraordinary power of Trevor Nunn's Merchant.  And the Mary Pickford / Douglas Fairbanks Taming of the Shrew is extraordinarily important for an understanding of cinema history (and it's the only full-scale, Hollywood studio, feature-length version of a Shakespeare play that we cover in full in the class).

So I've re-arranged things so that we watch pieces of most of these, and I hope that will whet the students' appetites for more, more, more!

Speaking of more, here are some more images of each of these actors in these roles:

Merchant of Venice. Dir. John Sichel Perf. Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Brett, and Michael Jayston. 1973. Videocassette. LIVE Home Video, 1993.

Merchant of Venice. Dir. Trevor Nunn. Perf. Gabrielle Jourdan and Lawrence Werber. 2001. Videocassette. Lexington Road Entertainment Group, 2001.

Merchant of Venice. Dir. Michael Radford. Perf. Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Finnes, and Lynn Collins. 2004. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2005.

The Taming of the Shrew. Dir. Sam Taylor. Perf. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. 1929. DVD. Aikman Archive, 2005.

The Taming of the Shrew. Dir. Franco Zeffirelli. Perf. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 1967. DVD. Sony, 1999.

Kiss me, Kate. Dir. George Sidney. Perf. Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, and Ann Miller. 1953. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2003.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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