Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Various Characters from "Shake, Mr. Shakespeare"

“Shake, Mr. Shakespeare.” Dir. Roy Mack. Perf. Carolyn Marsh, Allan Mann, William Hall, and John Bohn. 1934. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dir. William Dieterle and Max Reinhardt. Perf. Mickey Rooney, James Cagney, Verree Teasdale, Olivia de Havilland, and Hugh Herbert. 1935. DVD. Warner Video, 2007.

In our last post, we saw a dozen or fifteen dancing Hamlets from the short film “Shake, Mr. Shakespeare.” In this installment, we turn to the way the short film presents Falstaff, Richard III, Romeo, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth. [Note: Othello is there, too, but the presentation of his character strikes me as racist, so I've not-so-silently excerpted his section.]

In this clip, each character get a quick rhymed couplet to indicate his desire or fitness for Hollywood performances:

For those of you who would like to have the lyrics as you watch, here they are!
As Falstaff, I made them laugh for centuries. Ho, ho!
But with my art in Guy Kibbee parts—Forsooth, I'll steal the show.

Richard III:
As Richard the Third, I must be heard. I'm Hollywood-bound, of course.
My talent leans to those Wild West scenes; my kingdom for a horse.

Romeo in Hollywood! What sublimity!
Does anyone know if Miss Garbo has a balcony?

Who art thou, Durante? Thou knave with monsterous beezer.
Thy flickering is ended—Hachachacha!—make way for Julius Caesar.

Macbeth will make them cringe in parts so dark and eerie.
I will make them all forget that weakling, Wallace Beery.

Bardfilm is ineluctably indebted to a reader called "mepalmer" for providing explanations to some unintelligible (to me, though not to mepalmer) lyrics. The comment (see below) clarified both what Falstaff sings and what Caesar sings. Before I read the comment, I thought Falstaff was singing "But with my art in 'Guy, give me' part," but I couldn't make reason or rhyme out of that at all. "With my art in comedy parts" would have made a lot of sense, but he's clearly (or unclearly?) not singing that.

Thank you, once again, mepalmer!

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Unknown said...

Falstaff is saying "with my art in Guy Kibbee parts..." Guy Kibbee was a character actor; Falstaff would probably have been a good role for him. According to Wikipedia, in 1933 he appeared in "42nd Street," "The Gold Diggers of 1933," and other lesser known movies. Later, he played, among many other things, the title role in "Captain January" with Shirley Temple. He also appeared in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

Would "flickering" make sense in Caesar's line as a reference to the look of early movies -- i.e., he's telling Jimmy Durante that his career as a movie actor is over now that Caesar is on his way? A wild guess.

Your blog is great. I'm really enjoying it.

kj said...

That's phenomenal! Thank you very much for clarifying those confusing lines. I'll add an update incorporating your suggestions soon.

Thanks again!


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.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

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