Archives for John Gielgud

Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Chimes at Midnight (1965) Directed by Orson Welles Starring Orson Welles, Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau and Margaret Rutherford reviewed by John Murphy Has there ever been a more felicitous pairing of part and performer than Falstaff and Orson Welles? With his rotund body and orotund voice, Welles knew he was born to play “this huge hill of flesh,” “Sir John” Falstaff, Shakespeare’s iconic sack-swilling scamp and scallywag. After decades of neglect and shoddy prints, we are blessed to have a new Criterion Collection release of Welles’s masterpiece, Chimes at Midnight, restored to its full lavish glory by Janus
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Looking for Richard (1996) directed by and starring Al Pacino

In his directing debut, Al Pacino has given us one of the most accessible Shakespeare spinoffs ever for the screen. Smart, witty and energetic, Looking for Richard is a delight to watch, offering insight into Shakespeare and his iconic Richard III, and giving the viewer a behind-the-scenes look at how a production of the play might be mounted. Pacino intercuts between his “film” of Shakespeare’s Richard III and documentary-style scenes and interviews on the making of same. The “real” movie (or at least portions thereof) is fabulous: Pacino plays Richard as an intellectual with a conscience, the effect being all
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Richard III (1956) directed by and starring Laurence Olivier

© 2005 John Murphy Many excellent actors have tackled that “foul lump of deformity,” the hunchbacked Duke of Gloucester, a.k.a. Richard III. Among them such acting greats as Ian Mckellen and Al Pacino. Say “Richard the Third,” though, and I immediately think of a human spider with hooded eyes, a pageboy haircut, sharp nose, and halting chicken legs in black tights. In other words, I think of Laurence Olivier’s Richard III. This ranks as one of Lord Laurence’s greatest performances, if not the greatest. It’s certainly his most darkly sardonic and deliciously self-confident. Olivier was really at the top of
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Hamlet (1964) starring Richard Burton, directed by John Gielgud and Bill Collerhan

In 1964, theatre history was made and legends augmented, if not born, when John Gielgud directed Richard Burton in a production of Hamlet As one might expect in a production directed by Gielgud, perhaps the foremost vocal interpreter of Shakespearean poetry in the twentieth century, the emphasis is on the music. This is a stripped-down production conceived as a rehearsal, or work-in-progress. The set is sparse and the props almost nonexistent. Even the pictures of King Hamlet and Claudius, usually worn in miniature by Hamlet and Gertrude in the Closet scene, are left to the audience’s imagination — in my
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