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Review: Orson Welles' "Chimes At Midnight" 1966); Criterion Blu-ray Special Edition

8 April 2017 6:11 AM, PDT | Cinemaretro.com | See recent CinemaRetro news »

By Jeremy Carr

It’s easy to see why Orson WellesChimes at Midnight is generally regarded as his finest post-Touch of Evil achievement. This Shakespearean mélange is a dazzling showcase for Welles’ ingenuity, his evident appreciation for the film’s literary foundation, and his relentless aptitude for stylistic inventiveness. However, its haphazard production and its rocky release comprise a backstory as complicated as the movie’s multi-source construction (the script, based on the lengthy play “Five Kings,” written and first performed by Welles in the 1930s, samples scenes and dialogue from at least five of Shakespeare’s works, primarily “Henry IV,” parts one and two, “Richard II,” “Henry V,” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor”). Plagued by what were at this point familiar budgetary constraints, Welles shot Chimes at Midnight over the course of about seven months in Spain, with a break when the financial well went dry. »

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