Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Uhura and Chekov in Antony and Cleopatra?

Anthony and Cleopatra. Dir. Lawrence Carra. Perf. James Avery, Sharon Barr, Michael Billington, Timothy Dalton, Lynn Redgrave, John Carradine,  Walter Koenig, and Nichelle Nichols. 1983. DVD. Bard Productions / Century Home Video, 2012.

The claim "Shakespeare is ubiquitous in the Star Trek universe(s)" can be readily established by my "Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete collection (for which, q.v.). But what about actors from Star Trek who went on to play roles in Shakespeare productions? Yes, I mean besides William Shatner and his Julius Caesar rap (for which, q.v.).

Walter Koenig, who played Checkov, and Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, performed in a 1983 television production of Antony and Cleopatra. Here, I must apologize if the title of this post turns out to have been disingenuous. They didn't play the title characters; those roles were left to Timothy Dalton and Lynn Redgrave. Nichols played Charmian, and Koenig was Pompey.

Here's Act I, scene ii, which gives us Charmian at her most playful—though Nichols does give some depth to the character:

I've let the scene run to Cleopatra's entrance so that you can get a glimpse of her and also so that you can see the effect of the interesting "Hush, here comes Antony" . . . "Not he, the queen" (I.ii.79) exchange.

The other scene is Act II, scene i. Despite a small miscue (he jumps on one of his lines too early), Koenig does a fair job with the part and the lines:

The one critique I have is that he seems to be doing Pompey with a slight Russian accent. I suppose old habits die hard.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Three Days of Hamlet: A Documentary

Three Days of Hamlet. Dir. Alex Hyde-White. Perf. Alex Hyde-White, Tom Badal, Richard Chamberlain, Iva Hasperger, Stefanie Powers,Chuma Hunter-Gault, and Peter Woodward. 2012. DVD. Fenix Pictures, 2013.

Three Days of Hamlet is a documentary about putting a production of Hamlet together in three days. The most intriguing part of this honestly not-too-intriguing film has to do with the father / son relationship—both in the play and between the director (and the Hamlet) and his father.

Alex Hyde-White, perhaps best known for his role as James Morse in Pretty Woman, is the son of Wilfrid Hyde-White, whom I know best as Pickering in the 1964 film version of My Fair Lady. A fair bit of the documentary contemplates their relationship and the complicated ways in which the appearance of the ghost of Hamlet, Sr. affects Hamlet, Jr.

Some psychological contemplation is clearly underway—to the point where we might see this entire production as Alex's way of proving something to Wilfrid about acting . . . or his life . . . or his desire to pass the torch of the acting profession to his son . . . or . . . something.

The production-within-the-documentary has some occasionally slight interest, but it seems mostly ordinary. The actors read their scripts,which I don't mind, especially given that they have three days to mount the production. But the overall effect is to distance them from the material itself and from their audience. There are also a surprising number of slightly-misread lines:  "Get thy ways to a nunnery," "No, not by this hand," "These foils have all the strength?" et cetera. I'm not quite sure what to do with that, other than to note that it reveals a lack of attention to the text.

The following clip will give you a good sense of the flavor of the documentary:

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An Early FoxTrot with Shakespearean Overtones

Amend, Bill. The Best of FoxTrot. Andrews McMeel: Kansas City, 2010.

I've always adored FoxTrot. Bill Amend does marvelous things with the genre and provides intriguing insights into all sort of issues.

But I like it best when it has some Shakespeare.

Is anyone surprised?

Despite being from an early period, this comic has some marvelous things to recommend it. Look at the marvelous foreshortening of Antony in the panel above. Yes, it does look a bit like a boot scrubber, but look over that to get at the emotion that's captured there. The third panel below has something of the same intensity. Perhaps Mr. Amend was watching films by Orson Welles when drawing this comic.

In any case, click on the image below to enlarge it—and to enjoy it!

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Twelfth Night Derivative Predates She's the Man

Motocrossed . Dir. Steve Boyum. Perf. Alana Austin, Trever O'Brien, Riley Smith. 2001. Videocassette. Walt Disney Video, 2002.

I hate a good challenge. So, when Shakespeare Geek pondered out loud on Twitter whether the 2001 Disney film Motocrossed was a derivative version of Twelfth Night, I was annoyed. I knew I would have to find out. It's only available on VHS (and it's very expensive at that), so I had to track down a library that had a copy, obtain it through Inter-Library Loan, digitalize it, and find time to watch it.

Fortunately, it turned out to be, indeed, a derivative version of Twelfth Night—five years before She's the Man came on the scene. In fact, according to IMDB, the film's working title was The Twelfth Lap, which makes a more direct connection to Shakespeare's play.

Unfortunately, it's not terrific (though it's also not terrible). It fits in the genre of "Saturday Afternoon Feel-Good Movie." When Andy Carson is injured, Andi Carson, his twin, enters the race pretending to be her brother. Hijinks ensue.

The gender mix-up is handled intriguingly, but not with very much bite. Andi turns out to have an affinity with the female sex, and another racer (Dean) admires that ability in him; they start hanging out, Dean trying to get Andi to help him develop a relationship with Faryn. She tries her best, but she's falling for Dean and thinks that Faryn isn't at all for Dean. Faryn, of course, falls for Andi, thinking she's Andy.

Here's a representative clip:

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

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.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest