This is a popular theme over at Wandering Through The Shelves who loves reading as many of you do out there in the dark…oops sorry, I was channeling Norma Desmond. There are so many films that I decided to do a theme within a theme. Here are my picks…
1. ROMEO AND JULIET-1936
We all know the famous story of those young teenage lovers who are part of 2 feuding families-the Montagues and the Capulets. They meet during a masquerade ball and fall hopelessly in love but their affair is doomed and ends tragically because, well, it is Shakespeare and it’s a tragedy. This wonderful( hahaha) adaptation stars 43 year old Leslie Howard as Romeo and 34 year old Norma Shearer as Juliet as those Dooey-eyed teens..hahahaaaa…. Sorry as dooey-eyed oldies who fall in love. You have Basil Rathbone and John Barrymore as the friends who fight one another. Basil was an expert swordsman and Barrymore was an expert drinker often drunk while doing his scenes who were also way too long in the tooth to play youngins. The sad reality is that Shearer’s husband, Irving Thalberg, who wanted this film as a showcase for his wife spring no expense, died the evening it premiered at the young age of 37 which cast a giant shadow on the film.
2. ROMEO AND JULIET-1968
This is the best version of this tragedy starring actual teenagers, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting as the doomed lovers. It was directed by Franco Zeffirelli who deserves the accolades for making this film a success. The music is beautiful as well as the cinematography and costumes. For decades and decades, Olivia Hussey had nothing but praise for her director and always claimed she was perfectly fine with the nude scene….same for Whiting so it’s a shame that just a year or so ago, they decided to sue the estate of Franco Zeffirelli for what they claimed was a deafening blow to their emotional well being for the nude scene. Now, they were young, she was 14 and Hollywood was not one to care about the feelings of young people especially girls but it just seems weird that after everything, they come out now. I a, one for the Me Two movement but this doesn’t ring right to me.
3. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE-1998
Ok, yes, this stars Goop, aka Gwyneth Paltrow, as a wealthy chick betrothed to a jerk ( luscious Colin Firth) who dreams of being an actress but there is one problem…she’s a girl and no girl ever acts on the stage. The performances, at that time, were played by men. Can you imagine a male Juliet? Well, neither can Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes ( Ralph’s brother) who owes money and is poor as dirt. He meets Goop and they fall in love. She pretends to be a boy so she can play the girl, Juliet, opposite Joey, playing Romeo. This is quite good, to be honest, but Goop never should have won the Oscar ( it should have gone to Cate Blanchett). It is actually quite funny especially with Geoffrey Rush who plays Shakespeare’s agent. Judi Dench won an Oscar for her very short role as Queen E #1. I don’t think she should have won here either ( I would have chosen Brenda Blethyn, Lynn Redgrave or Kathy Bates) but this is a good movie to watch. It won best picture…no, it shouldn’t have won, if I had to chose from the nominees, I would have chosen “Elizabeth”.
So which movies would you pick?