6.7/10
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37 user 10 critic

Romeo and Juliet (1936)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 3 September 1936 (USA)
Young love is poisoned by a generations long feud between two noble families.

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Writers:

(play), (adaptation)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

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Peter - Servant to Juliet's Nurse
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Storyline

The Montagues and the Capulets, two powerful families of Verona, hate each other. Romeo, son of Montague, crashes a Capulet party, and there meets Juliet, daughter of Capulet. They fall passionately in love. Since their families would disapprove, they marry in secret. Romeo gets in a fight with Tybalt, nephew of Lady Capulet, and kills him. He is banished from Verona. Capulet, not knowing that his daughter is already married, proceeds with his plans to marry Juliet to Paris, a prince. This puts Juliet in quite a spot, so she goes to the sympathetic Friar Laurence, who married her to Romeo. He suggests a daring plan to extricate her from her fix. Tragedy ensues. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Scenes of combat that will stir your pulse...tender haunting romance that will stay ever fresh in your memory...spectacular beauty that will set a feast for your eyes...in the greatest melodramatic romance of all time...presented as it has never been before...the final glorious flower of motion picture achievement.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

3 September 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Romeo og Julie  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One minor complaint about this film version, according to many fans of the play, would be that Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer were physically too old to portray teenage lovers. At the time of this film's release, Howard was 43 years old; Shearer was 34 years old. See more »

Quotes

Juliet: Romeo. Romeo. Wherefore art thou Romeo?
See more »

Connections

Version of Indian Romeo and Juliet (1912) See more »

Soundtracks

Pavane
(1926) (uncredited)
from "Capriol Suite"
Written by Peter Warlock
Based on "Orchesographie" by Thoinot Arbeau (1589)
Played by orchestra during opening credits and often as background music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Age of the Cast Undercuts the Film
22 April 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

This version of Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET was very famous in its day, and a number of critics that I greatly admire continue to praise it even now. But I must sound a dissenting note: although it has its charms, I personally found the film somewhat difficult to sit through due to the age of the cast. On the stage, Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers are usually played by mature actors in full command of both Shakespearean language and their own art, and the physical distance between the stage and the audience allows the cast to create the illusion of youth. But the camera is merciless, particularly in close up, and this film production presents us with the middle-aged Leslie Howard, Norma Shearer, John Barrymore, and Basil Rathbone in roles that would be better served on the screen by much younger players.

To give the cast its due, several of the stars fought tooth and nail against making the film--most notably Leslie Howard, who even went so far as give press interviews stating that he was much too old to play Romeo in a screen production. When forced into the production by contractual obligation, Howard and his counterparts gave it their all, but sad to say the camera did not lie: they were indeed too old. Although some viewers are able to suspend disbelief to accept the stars in such youthful roles, I myself could not. I found it occasionally absurd, but more often embarrassing, with the famous balcony a case in point. All of this might be forgiven if the stars actually generated any sense of passion, but they do not--and it is really here that their ages tell, for instead of the white-hot passions of youth that lead to disaster we have instead a gentle love story with an unhappy ending.

Still, the film really is pretty to look at--it has an engraved quality in its glossy black and white--and if you close your eyes, you can enjoy the 'grand manner' readings, which is a great deal more than one can say for most cinematic Shakespearean interpretations. There is also Edna May Oliver's performance, and she is excellent in the role of Juliet's babbling nurse.

Fans of this film's stars will no doubt wish to add it to their library, and those interested in seeing how Hollywood approached Shakespeare in the 1930s will enjoy seeing it at least once--but I would hesitate to recommend this film to any one outside that circle. Most viewers will be happier with the later Franco Zefferilli version.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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