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#21 rayban

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 07:16 PM

There's a very respectable adaptation of this film that is directed by Renato Castellani and which stars Laurence Harvey and Susan Shentall.

 

Its' greatest strength is the on-location shooting.

 

Laurence Harvey is excellent (but too old).

 

Susan Shentall had never acted before.


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"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".


#22 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 06:40 PM

I am nearing the end of my repeat viewing of ROMEO AND JULIET. I guess I've had a few more observations about the overall nature of the production. I can see why it appeals so strongly to younger viewers. As Ray noted, there is a lot of raw emotion. 


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"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#23 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 05:47 PM

It's "red-hot" and "intensely excitable" - that's the nature of the text.

 

Franco Zefferelli isn't approaching it as "a museum piece".

 

That's the reason, I think, that it flew up in so many people's faces.

 

They were given "raw emotion".

 

They were not given a respectfully-mounted film production.

 

Interesting comment, Ray. 

 

I was never fond of Welles' takes on Shakespeare and knock-offs of Shakespeare. I understand that Chimes At Midnight is a classic. Macbeth has some charm. However I love Olivier's Henry V. I do not think that this film compares favorably with Henry V or even Branaugh's version. I have seen this movie more times than either of those two films. I have seen Olivier's at least four times, I think. Obviously you would favor that one because of how we start with the Globe theater and the stage then "evolves" into a more realistic setting, then reverts back to the Globe. I also like all of the Encyclopædia Britannica documentaries produced by John Barnes documenting the various plays, especially Shaw vs. Shakespeare.

 

I enjoy Branagh's version of HENRY V and his filming of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. I haven't seen Branagh's HAMLET.

 

Olivier's is in a class by itself.


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"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#24 rayban

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 05:23 PM

Perhaps. LOL Actually I am watching it again right now-- the opening fight scene, exciting as it is, has no real motivation whatsoever. One of them asks another from the rival clan if he likes to quarrel, and apparently he does. The next thing we know they're shouting 'draw!' and the swords come out and the fathers rush down to the street to join the warring. It's unintentionally comical. Then the prince shows up-- and this actor shouts all his lines, bellowing at them to stop. And the prince says they've at least three times disturbed the peace, but he doesn't say why they are doing this or even offers to help find a solution. 

 

In addition to some of them shouting their lines, they flail their arms about and do very heightened gestures. The actress who plays the nurse is very guilty of this. She can't even hug Juliet without squeezing the garments of her clothes. Maybe on stage this type of animation works but not really on film. I even turned the sound off to watch the nurse perform-- it's like watching an actress in a silent movie. 

 

Yes, maybe I am finding too many faults with it-- but I don't think Zefferelli or his cast and crew see this as a very cinematic undertaking-- they are treating it as an expensively filmed play. The camera shots are often very static, and it is relying on performance more than on the images that are suggested by Shakespeare's text.

It's "red-hot" and "intensely excitable" - that's the nature of the text.

 

Franco Zefferelli isn't approaching it as "a museum piece".

 

That's the reason, I think, that it flew up in so many people's faces.

 

They were given "raw emotion".

 

They were not given a respectfully-mounted film production.


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"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".


#25 Jlewis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 05:00 PM

I was never fond of Welles' takes on Shakespeare and knock-offs of Shakespeare. I understand that Chimes At Midnight is a classic. Macbeth has some charm. However I love Olivier's Henry V. I do not think that this film compares favorably with Henry V or even Branaugh's version. I have seen this movie more times than either of those two films. I have seen Olivier's at least four times, I think. Obviously you would favor that one because of how we start with the Globe theater and the stage then "evolves" into a more realistic setting, then reverts back to the Globe. I also like all of the Encyclopædia Britannica documentaries produced by John Barnes documenting the various plays, especially Shaw vs. Shakespeare.

 

Yet there is no point debating movies with me. As you already know, I also like The Incredible Shrinking Man. It is what it is. Movies are only fun for me if I have fun. Not because of their camera and story ingenuity.

 

I can not lie. I have lots of fun watching Pat Heywood drag little Leonard into the church, causing him to fall all over her. I don't care too much for Michael York here, High Dee Hoh.

 

Oh... I also love the fact that energetic Leonard is obviously still breathing in his death scene. Hey! You can't win them all.


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#26 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 04:38 PM

You forgot the silly zoom shots!

 

Yes, the zoom shots especially in the street scenes are Zefferelli's idea of camera movement. I did like the swirling movement during the group dance at the party, but I can only imagine how much more impressive it would have been with Welles or Ophuls directing it. It would have had a more shimmering effect probably and the dance would have been much more choreographed. It's obvious they're just using ideas that worked on stage without refining or enhancing it for the screen.


"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#27 Jlewis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 04:28 PM

You forgot the silly zoom shots!

 

I cannot lie. I love Pat Heywood. Her cockney performance is so out of place, but she is so entertaining.

 

One of these days, you need to profile Disney's Pinocchio. I absolutely love that movie too, but... oh boy! It has massive story structure problems!


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#28 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 04:20 PM

I agree with much of what you say, but I am in the same boat with rayban here. I don't get fussy about all of the flaws. I just enjoy it for what it is. Also that second video posted below has one fan loving it more than any other Shakespeare movie and you can read comments by fans saying they have seen it 20 times. That may be a good 18 or so more than you can stomach, Topbilled. Ha ha!

 

Perhaps. LOL Actually I am watching it again right now-- the opening fight scene, exciting as it is, has no real motivation whatsoever. One of them asks another from the rival clan if he likes to quarrel, and apparently he does. The next thing we know they're shouting 'draw!' and the swords come out and the fathers rush down to the street to join the warring. It's unintentionally comical. Then the prince shows up-- and this actor shouts all his lines, bellowing at them to stop. And the prince says they've at least three times disturbed the peace, but he doesn't say why they are doing this or even offers to help find a solution. 

 

In addition to some of them shouting their lines, they flail their arms about and do very heightened gestures. The actress who plays the nurse is very guilty of this. She can't even hug Juliet without squeezing the garments of her clothes. Maybe on stage this type of animation works but not really on film. I even turned the sound off to watch the nurse perform-- it's like watching an actress in a silent movie. 

 

Yes, maybe I am finding too many faults with it-- but I don't think Zefferelli or his cast and crew see this as a very cinematic undertaking-- they are treating it as an expensively filmed play. The camera shots are often very static, and it is relying on performance more than on the images that are suggested by Shakespeare's text.


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"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#29 Jlewis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 03:09 PM

I agree with much of what you say, but I am in the same boat with rayban here. I don't get fussy about all of the flaws. I just enjoy it for what it is. Also that second video posted below has one fan loving it more than any other Shakespeare movie and you can read comments by fans saying they have seen it 20 times. That may be a good 18 or so more than you can stomach, Topbilled. Ha ha!

 

It is also a fun relic of Paramount film history too. That music by Nino Rota is so relentlessly repetitive, but like his Godfather scores, you can't get it out of your head. Amusingly when Robert Evans's wife proved a success in Goodbye Columbus, he had to make a composite of both that movie and this movie. Wallah! We got Love Story with music not quite as addictive, but additive enough.


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#30 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 02:45 PM

I kind of felt Whiting was over-acting in spots-- really trying to get the pathos across by overdoing the expressions and vocal inflections. Hussey was a lot more subdued (except for when she and the father were arguing). Then we have the supporting cast-- some of them shouted their lines in dramatic scenes, which seemed like they were acting as if they were still on stage, instead of on a movie set near a boom mic. But since almost all of the dialogue was redubbed and they did their lines again in a sound recording booth there is no need for them to be shouting so much of the dialogue.

 

Another reason Whiting and some of the supporting cast might have been at high voltage was this was a big break for them career-wise and I'm sure they were trying to be powerful and make a major impression. But Zefferelli should have reigned them in more.

 

I wonder how this story would be told if it had a strong female director. I think it does need to be presented more from the female perspective, especially the balcony scene and the bedroom scene-- and a woman guiding it behind the camera might give the story the balance it deserves.


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"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#31 Jlewis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 02:20 PM

In regards to ROMEO FEATURING JULIET, this is really more his film than hers anyway. I recall reading that Zefferelli's interest in him had more to do with his very photogenic face than his rear end, although the camera does linger there too. Olivia does a good job but I favor her later work in several prominent seventies and eighties successes (like playing Mary in Jesus of Nazareth). Leonard was sadly a "has-been" within five years after this film's success, although he attempted a music career.

 

Yet it isn't his looks that are important in keeping you focused on him. He has a very broad range of facial expressions. My "vibe" is that Leonard the actor was more "into" actress Olivia than she was "into" him. He puts a lot of raw emotion in that crypt scene and, unfortunately, her "happy dagger" speech comes off a trifle less motivated. Also her hysterical scenes with her parents earlier seem less about Romeo than just mommy and daddy's authority issues.

 

Leonard's "In what vile part of this anatomy" scene is so raw that you momentarily think he may kill himself on the spot if Milo O'Shea's friar doesn't stop him. In fact, this scene is great foreshadowing of what is to come: the friar failing to stop the eventual suicide. He succeeds in talking Romeo out of it in his quarters earlier, but the sight of the opened crypt prompts a scared-white expression on Milo's face. This works well on screen because Leonard pulls it off successfully as a 17 year old with feelings rather than a 17 year old with limited Shakespearean experience.

 

They may not have been lovers off screen, but they remained good friends. Here they are shortly after filming wrapped in October 25, 1967:

 

 

Then in December 6, 2016

 

 

 


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#32 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 01:29 PM

Honestly, it is not that solid a piece of dramaturgy.

 

It is quite "contrived".

 

And, yet it endures, I think, as a testament to the glorious impetuousness of young love.

 

The type of love that is already "doomed".

 

Good point. I'm glad I watched it again recently and reviewed it. I remember the first time I saw it was in a high school Shakespeare class in the late 80s, on VHS! 

 

Now that I have finished with the classic love stories theme, I am going to look at different types of films next month. In March I will be focusing on several James Bond films starring Roger Moore. I just love Moore and feel like he needs a bit of honoring. And I've never seen his very first movie as 007, so I am eager to review it plus three more in the weeks ahead!


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"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#33 rayban

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:59 PM

Honestly, it is not that solid a piece of dramaturgy.

 

It is quite "contrived".

 

And, yet it endures, I think, as a testament to the glorious impetuousness of young love.

 

The type of love that is already "doomed".


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"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".


#34 Jlewis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:34 PM

Yes they lacked experience (which is something you get in spades with Shearer and Howard). In some ways this version seems almost like a Love poem to Whiting by Zefferelli. A lot of Juliet's stuff seems to be cut, but not Romeo's. And the morning after bed scene lingers on Whiting's derriere, whereas with a heterosexual director, I think the emphasis would have been on Hussey's nude body. So at points this seems like ROMEO FEATURING JULIET instead of ROMEO AND JULIET.

 

 

Maybe his being so high strung is what makes Tybalt the more interesting character in my opinion. But I almost wanted him to be more evil, more dangerous. We should have seen him kill someone in the opening sequence and get away with it, so when the later scene occurs, we know what a destructive force Tybalt really is and the subsequent deaths have been better foreshadowed. 

 

I don't think the feud between the families is all about Tybalt and the Montague boys. These lads have learned their hatred from their fathers and grandfathers. We need to know more about the history of war between the rival families. This should be more than just boys on the street having brawls. Every new argument is based on the long-standing issue that keeps dividing them and necessitates the prince to keep an eye on them and intervene where necessary.

 

Probably the reason Romeo's parents are not shown as much is because the actor who played Lord Montague had a thick Italian accent. Supposedly Olivier dubbed his dialogue, and for all we know, Zefferelli might have cut material that featured him to save on the process of re-recording all his dialogue. But I agree we need to see him more and we really should have some sort of scene with the fathers earlier in the movie, where maybe they try to bury the hatchet and they fail, which sends Tybalt back out to the streets on his crusade. Zefferelli could have expanded the story in key areas to give us a deeper understanding of the contentiousness between the families and how that dooms the young lovers even more.

 

Leonard's bottom exposure was partly due to the director's gay infatuation (although nothing happened between the two off camera), but that was the trend in American and European movies at the time. This was the era when Charlton Heston and Burt Lancaster were unashamedly exposing their bottoms on screen as well. Full frontal male nudity only officially arrived (outside of Time Square porn) when Warhol's Flesh opened in cities outside of New York (September 1968) and not officially in a studio-backed release, Medium Cool. (That being released after the Swedish import, I Am Curious, Yellow which was responsible for opening the flood gates after being confiscated by U.S. Customs in January 1968 and much legal red tape before getting a legitimate release in March 1969.)

 

Also Olivia, whose breasts are shown fleetingly, was more "under aged" than Leonard so they had to be more cautious in how they depicted her on screen.

 

I completely agree about the fathers and grandfathers starting all of the warfare. There are moments when Tybalt seems to be operating on orders rather than personal animosity. The only problem showing him killing somebody early in the movie would be that it would have to factor as an extra in the "he killed Mercutio" excuse later.

 

Being an Italian production, a lot of dialogue was recorded later, so Olivier's contributions were no big deal. The original LP does not have original soundtrack dialogue but alternate recordings with the exact same cast.


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#35 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:20 PM

The original script by Mr. William Shakespeare was drastically cut, because the two lead actors were not seasoned professionals.

 

Yes they lacked experience (which is something you get in spades with Shearer and Howard). In some ways this version seems almost like a Love poem to Whiting by Zefferelli. A lot of Juliet's stuff seems to be cut, but not Romeo's. And the morning after bed scene lingers on Whiting's derriere, whereas with a heterosexual director, I think the emphasis would have been on Hussey's nude body. So at points this seems like ROMEO FEATURING JULIET instead of ROMEO AND JULIET.

 

I did not catch the nurse comment on Tybalt being a friend. Yes, we only have the earlier shot of her asking him to identify Romeo at the ball to go by. It could be that everybody got along with Tybalt in that family. Yet Juliet's parents already know he is high strung though.

 

Obviously the families had a LOT of rage between them, but we the viewers know little about it. Especially when Juliet learns that her lover is from the family she is supposed to hate. Also the way her mommy goes into rage after Tybalt's death. Again, I don't get the impression that HIS parents are as war-like as HERS especially with HIS Mommy relieved that he was not involved in a fight early in the movie.

 

I agree that there are some loop holes in the material.

 

However I didn't see the last portion was too rushed, although Romeo is too rushed like Speedy Gonzales. But... that is teenagers for you. "Fools rush in..."

 

Maybe his being so high strung is what makes Tybalt the more interesting character in my opinion. But I almost wanted him to be more evil, more dangerous. We should have seen him kill someone in the opening sequence and get away with it, so when the later scene occurs, we know what a destructive force Tybalt really is and the subsequent deaths have been better foreshadowed. 

 

I don't think the feud between the families is all about Tybalt and the Montague boys. These lads have learned their hatred from their fathers and grandfathers. We need to know more about the history of war between the rival families. This should be more than just boys on the street having brawls. Every new argument is based on the long-standing issue that keeps dividing them and necessitates the prince to keep an eye on them and intervene where necessary.

 

Probably the reason Romeo's parents are not shown as much is because the actor who played Lord Montague had a thick Italian accent. Supposedly Olivier dubbed his dialogue, and for all we know, Zefferelli might have cut material that featured him to save on the process of re-recording all his dialogue. But I agree we need to see him more and we really should have some sort of scene with the fathers earlier in the movie, where maybe they try to bury the hatchet and they fail, which sends Tybalt back out to the streets on his crusade. Zefferelli could have expanded the story in key areas to give us a deeper understanding of the contentiousness between the families and how that dooms the young lovers even more.


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"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#36 rayban

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:07 PM

I didn't have a problem with them cutting certain lines and using more close-ups and short takes with the leads. But I do think Zefferelli condensed too much of the final acts so the whole thing is kind of off-balance. It's very slow and leisurely during the first hour and a half, then the last 38 minutes after the marriage, he has to hurry and get to the crypt scene. So it doesn't flow like it should. 

 

I don't think Zefferelli is really using the lighting or camera angles to suggest any psychological complexities with the leads, which he should do. If Olivier or Welles had filmed it, we would have seen the darker aspects of this forbidden love. Instead Zefferelli relies heavily on the fresh-faced cast, the costumes and the soaring music. 

 

I almost find Tybalt the most interesting character in this version. He's edgier and a lot more complex than everyone else. But after his death, there's a scene where the nurse is crying and says he was her best friend. Nothing earlier in the movie suggested they had any sort of real relationship.

 

I can buy Juliet being sheltered if she had an affliction-- like a speech impediment, a clubfoot or if she was agoraphobic. But this is a very wealthy family in a small city and they would have been riding in the streets to concerts and to church, and she would have been out of the house more and would at least have heard about Romeo who was her same age. Having them meet as strangers is just highly improbable.

 

As for marrying Paris, we know she's already wed to Romeo and cannot commit bigamy, and she comes up with a plan to avoid the second marriage. But we still need to see how she convinces her father she is now amenable to being Paris' wife. We go from a scene with her being defiant and the father screaming at her, to her suddenly having agreed. It's too much of a jump forward to be believable. She should really be agonizing about going behind her parents' backs and realizing she has to deceive her father. But we get none of that because Zefferelli is trying to rush to the crypt scene.

The original script by Mr. William Shakespeare was drastically cut, because the two lead actors were not seasoned professionals.


"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".


#37 Jlewis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 12:05 PM

I did not catch the nurse comment on Tybalt being a friend. Yes, we only have the earlier shot of her asking him to identify Romeo at the ball to go by. It could be that everybody got along with Tybalt in that family. Yet Juliet's parents already know he is high strung though.

 

Obviously the families had a LOT of rage between them, but we the viewers know little about it. Especially when Juliet learns that her lover is from the family she is supposed to hate. Also the way her mommy goes into rage after Tybalt's death. Again, I don't get the impression that HIS parents are as war-like as HERS especially with HIS Mommy relieved that he was not involved in a fight early in the movie.

 

I agree that there are some loop holes in the material.

 

However I didn't see the last portion was too rushed, although Romeo is too rushed like Speedy Gonzales. But... that is teenagers for you. "Fools rush in..."



#38 TopBilled

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:47 AM

So many questions!

 

OK.

 

First of all, these are sheltered teenagers in a medieval society. Juliet is kinda shy and doesn't get out much. A masquerade ball is her only outing. When not sniffing flowers out in the meadow like Ferdinand the Bull, Romeo is hanging out with the boys.

 

I don't know what the families are fighting over, but Michael York's Tybalt and John McEnery's Mercutio are the two who are obviously undersexed and desperately needing a "release". We don't see Romeo's parents much but they seem too sweet-natured to be involved in any war fare. Juliet's parents have no issue with Romeo attending the ball and Romeo is only "bad" and outlawed after he killed Tybalt (if by accident). Also the friar and nurse are both happy about Romeo and Juliet together and both *think* the parents will eventually approve. Only nobody wants to be honest about the secret marriage ceremony and Tybalt's death throws everything out of wack.

 

Probably the biggest issue is that Paris is the "arranged" husband the parents favor. Juliet only "agrees" to marry him after she has a plan to get what she wants. Isn't this decision made after she talks to the friar with a solution: her fake death?

 

A bigger issue is the very slooooooow mail service by donkey and Leonard Whiting's Romeo sticking to what his teen friend tells him rather than waiting to hear the truth. Those impatient teenagers!!!! They are their own worst enemies. Had that letter explained everything, Romeo wouldn't have poisoned himself with so much gusto.

 

There was quite a bit of criticism at the time for cutting some key lines in the play because the cast was struggling a bit, being very young. Romeo + Juliet which was made almost three decades later with LeonardO (not not Leonard) didn't suffer in this way. However that cast was a few years older, mostly in their twenties and thirties. Not as old as Leslie Howard, but a trifle less believable than this version.

 

As far as instant attraction... who can explain that? I mean... juvenile Prince Philip squinted at Aurora in her crib in Disney's Sleeping Beauty but was all gaga when seeing her as a teenager "Briar Rose" frolicking bare-foot with hooty owl, birdies, squirrels and bunnies. Maybe Juliet was just a tyke when he last saw her. Or maybe he was blinded by Mercutio's obsession over him, constantly wanting to know where he is at all times as the jealous gay lover. I get him and Benvolio mixed up. Which dude kept saying it was too hot to keep fussing?

 

I didn't have a problem with them cutting certain lines and using more close-ups and short takes with the leads. But I do think Zefferelli condensed too much of the final acts so the whole thing is kind of off-balance. It's very slow and leisurely during the first hour and a half, then the last 38 minutes after the marriage, he has to hurry and get to the crypt scene. So it doesn't flow like it should. 

 

I don't think Zefferelli is really using the lighting or camera angles to suggest any psychological complexities with the leads, which he should do. If Olivier or Welles had filmed it, we would have seen the darker aspects of this forbidden love. Instead Zefferelli relies heavily on the fresh-faced cast, the costumes and the soaring music. 

 

I almost find Tybalt the most interesting character in this version. He's edgier and a lot more complex than everyone else. But after his death, there's a scene where the nurse is crying and says he was her best friend. Nothing earlier in the movie suggested they had any sort of real relationship.

 

I can buy Juliet being sheltered if she had an affliction-- like a speech impediment, a clubfoot or if she was agoraphobic. But this is a very wealthy family in a small city and they would have been riding in the streets to concerts and to church, and she would have been out of the house more and would at least have heard about Romeo who was her same age. Having them meet as strangers is just highly improbable.

 

As for marrying Paris, we know she's already wed to Romeo and cannot commit bigamy, and she comes up with a plan to avoid the second marriage. But we still need to see how she convinces her father she is now amenable to being Paris' wife. We go from a scene with her being defiant and the father screaming at her, to her suddenly having agreed. It's too much of a jump forward to be believable. She should really be agonizing about going behind her parents' backs and realizing she has to deceive her father. But we get none of that because Zefferelli is trying to rush to the crypt scene.


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"You've had a few hours given back to you from life. A few hours in which to change your minds and your hearts. When you came into the grounds of this inn, you came into a place as it was a year ago today. You were in your own time, but the house and garden and Gwyneth and I are in the time of last year. The day the bomb hit. When you go away and walk up the road you will have spent a night in an inn. But if you look back from the crest of the hill, the halfway house will not be here...but if you remember, it will be as you remember a forgotten snatch of song. It will be a picture before your eyes. Gone before you realize it is there. Or an echo in the hidden places of your mind. But you have been here...and the world is what you make it." -- Mervyn Johns, THE HALFWAY HOUSE.


#39 Jlewis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:44 AM

Franco Zefferelli's "Romeo and Juliet" - wild, uncontrollable, tragic - the very essence of young YOUNG love.

 

Romeo -

 

"O blessed, blessed night!  I am afeard

Being in night, all this is but a dream,

Too flattering-sweet to be substantial."

 

Plus it was the swinging sixties. Everybody did stuff with passion, spelled with a capital "P". This was sandwiched between The Graduate ("Elaine!!!!!!" "What's that guy doing?!?" "He's too late!") and the 1969 combo of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (and I still crack up with Eliott Gould's mouth full of nuts when he admits to his "affair") and Goodbye Columbus (i.e. Richard Benjamin just had to use HER shower afterwards).


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#40 rayban

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:37 AM

Essential: ROMEO AND JULIET (1968)

 

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When Franco Zefferelli made this film, he made Shakespeare more accessible to modern audiences. It wasn’t the first cinematic version about the great star-crossed lovers, nor would it be the last, but its timeless qualities set it apart. Primarily remembered for its realistic casting (earlier productions used much older actors to portray the teenaged leads) and remembered for on-location filming in and around Rome, it remains highly regarded nearly fifty years after Paramount first released it.
 

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Critic Roger Ebert called it an exciting adaptation. The opening sequence certainly contains a great deal of excitement and nicely establishes the mood. Immediately we see the youth of two rival Veronese families (the Capulets and Montagues) engaged in a street brawl that has escalated in the blink of an eye from an insult to a sword fight. But the disturbance ends, and our heroic Romeo (Leonard Whiting) makes his entrance in a more subdued and romantic moment. Then we glimpse sweet young Juliette (Olivia Hussey) in her home environment. Even someone with no prior knowledge of the proceedings can figure out they will fall in love.
 

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But the basic scenario is somewhat contrived. We have to ask why in all these years of living in the same small city they never noticed or head about each other before the party scene. And what’s caused their initial love-at-first-sight to be so overpowering is not explained either. Is it because they find something in each other absent within their own families? Of course, the first kiss they share is quite special. Yet it lacks the type of psychological dimension we see in Hamlet, so the tragicness that should be there right from the beginning is largely absent.
 

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Juliet’s cousin Tybalt is of course the villain of the piece/peace. Though if you think about it, Shakespeare’s need to present a tragedy is what brings the pair to eventual ruin. In the meantime we’re poised to root for the antithesis of happiness, because rooting for this couple and their hysterically dramatic ending is the same as rooting for trouble and misery. Other things work against the text. Romeo and Juliette as literary figures are now so casually a part of our common culture that it’s easy to overlook how extreme and violent their story is. Though one can never overlook the sheer impossibleness of it all– especially after Tybalt’s death.
 

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Shakespearean scholars may not like to point out the other plot holes– at least in Zefferelli’s telling. For instance, there is no explanation given for Juliet’s sudden decision to marry Paris. Viewers know she cannot marry Paris if she is already wed to Romeo, and she is just going along with the idea to prevent hostilities with her father. But it’s not explained how she convinces her parents she’s changed her mind and is now willing to be Paris’ wife.
 

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Also during the funeral procession at the end, we are not told how Romeo has been forgiven for his crimes. He did take the law into his own hands when he killed Tybalt, and it would keep him from being honorable in the eyes of the prince, even if the Capulets were able to understand why he did it. Then there’s the fact we’re never told much about why the Capulets and the Montagues are feuding in the first place. Is this all just an old-fashioned turf war, or were there other killings in the past that needed to be avenged? The backstory is not at all properly fleshed out.
 

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The crypt scene and the funeral seem kind of rushed to me. Zefferelli spends too much time presenting the courtship and showing the gang activity in the streets (no doubt influenced by WEST SIDE STORY) that he is forced to speed up the the last two acts of the play in order to get everything in before the movie ends. When it’s over, the experience leaves us with a somewhat unoriginal conclusion. I’m not sure if it’s Shakespeare’s main idea or Zefferelli’s that love is forever. And in a fool’s paradise it has the effect of a dagger to the heart.
 

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ROMEO AND JULIET can be streamed as part of the Amazon video service.

 

Franco Zefferelli's "Romeo and Juliet" - wild, uncontrollable, tragic - the very essence of young YOUNG love.

 

Romeo -

 

"O blessed, blessed night!  I am afeard

Being in night, all this is but a dream,

Too flattering-sweet to be substantial."


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"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".





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