This very different version of the Shakespearean story was shot in 1964 but unreleased until 1968, when Franco Zeffirelli's successful and more opulent rendition came out. It was made in Italian and dubbed into English, and the movie suffers for that. When one must deal in the long phrases
of Shakespeare, the loss of synchronization between the lips of the onscreen actors and the voice of the off-screen actors is shabby. The choice of voices is questionable as well; regional US accents are heard coming from the mouths of mainly Italian performers. Imagine Laurence Olivier with
Sylvester Stallone's voice playing Hamlet, and you'll have a small idea of what this sounds like. Compressed to 90 minutes, the film has huge chunks removed from the script, which makes it move very quickly and easily. It seems like a new version of the story rather than a truncated one.
Coproduced by Hispamer (Spain) and Imprecine (Italy), this picture tries mightily to be Shakespeare for the masses. Meynier and Dexter look right for their leads, but the revelation is Raho as Friar John. He is not the usual rotund comedy relief. Instead, the role has been altered to make the
priest more youthful and ascetic, more like Francis of Assisi than Friar Tuck. The battles are scaled-down, and the Capulet ball, which was so ornate in the Zeffirelli picture, looks more like a small family party. There was a flurry of legal action between Paramount and World Entertainment
because the two films were coming out at the same time, but the only person who deserved to make a few bucks from this bonanza was long dead...the playwright.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This very different version of the Shakespearean story was shot in 1964 but unreleased until 1968, when Franco Zeffirelli's successful and more opulent rendition came out. It was made in Italian and dubbed into English, and the movie suffers for that. When… (more)