Shakespeare Films in the Making examines the production and reception of five feature-length Shakespeare films from the twentieth century, focusing on the ways in which they articulate visions of their Shakespearean originals, of the fictional worlds in which the films are set, and of the movie-makers' own society. Warner Brothers' 1935 A Midsummer Night's Dream and MGM's 1936 Romeo and Juliet were products of the Hollywood system and reflect the studios' desire to enhance their status with 'prestige pictures'. Olivier's 1944 Henry V was part of Britain's cultural war effort and embodies visions of the medieval past and ideal leadership. The Romeo and Juliet films of Renato Castellani (1954) and Franco Zeffirelli (1968) embodied visions of Renaissance Italy that contrast - in differing ways - with MGM's film. This book offers readings of these significant and influential films, supported by extensive archival research, including studio documents, script revisions, publicity materials and reviews.
Russell Jackson is Allardyce Professor of Drama in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham.
Introduction: 'Such stuff as dreams are made on'; 1. Max Reinhardt's recurring Dream: Hollywood, 1935; 2. Pastoral-Historical: Olivier's Henry V, 1944; 3. Visions of Renaissance Italy: 'More Stars than there are in Heaven': MGM's Romeo and Juliet, 1936; 4. Realism and Romance: Renato Castellani's Giulietta e Romeo, 1954; 5. Renaissance Verona and the generation gap: Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, 1968; Appendix: unpublished script materials.