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Hamlet (I) (1964)

 -  Drama  -  23 September 1964 (USA)
7.4
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The highly successful 1964 Richard Burton Broadway production of "Hamlet", deliberately staged in the style of a "dress rehearsal", but performed in front of a live audience.

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Title: Hamlet (1964)

Hamlet (1964) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Alfred Drake ...
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William Redfield ...
George Rose ...
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Michael Ebert ...
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Storyline

Sir John Gielgud directed this "Electronovision" taping of the play "Hamlet" performed at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Broadway in 1964 ("Electronovision" was a short-lived gimmick which was basically closed-circuit TV). The most unusual thing about this film is that the actors are in street clothes instead of period costumes, and the sets are minimal, to say the least. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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23 September 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Richard Burton's Hamlet  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Richard Burton's adoptive father, Philip Burton, had to intervene and help his son with his interpretation of the melancholy Dane, as well as help other cast members who were confused by director John Gielgud's direction (or lack of it). Philip had been estranged from Richard since the younger Burton left his wife and two daughters to hook up with Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra (1963). Though the two hadn't spoken since the breakup of Richard's marriage, Taylor called Philip and told him that Richard was struggling under Gielgud's direction. Four years earlier, Philip had stepped in to help director Moss Hart with the direction of the 1960 Broadway musical "Camelot" after Hart had had a heart-attack. Father and son were reconciled, and under Philip's tutelage, Richard Burton ultimately presented a Hamlet that was more of the old Jacobian "Revenger" type (known colloquially as "Belleforest" after an adulterated version of the play dating from the 18th Century) that was the antithesis of the Gielgud-Laurence Olivier German Romantic conception of Hamlet that had dominated the English-speaking stage in the 20th century. (In addition to fusing Freud with the Bard, Olivier did add Revenger flourishes to his Hamlet, though, by making the character somewhat of a swashbuckler. However, Belleforest-style Hamlets, such as the one presented by Albert Finney at the National Theatre in 1975, were considered "old-fashioned" as they underplayed the psychology so dear to 20th Century audiences and were typically panned by critics.) Prior to his step-father's help, Richard Burton had found himself unable to convincingly play a Romantic Hamlet under Gielgud's direction. Ironically, as the long run of his Broadway Hamlet went on, a bored Burton would vary his Hamlet night by night according to how he felt. According to his own memoirs, Richard Burton might one night present the prince as a homosexual, while another night add German words to the text in order to see if anyone noticed. Some theatrical mavens who had returned to the theater to see the fiery Hamlet of the opening days of the production criticized Burton for his lack of discipline. See more »

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IT WAS REALLY A DRESS REHEARSAL!
30 August 2002 | by (San Antonio, Texas, USA) – See all my reviews

Whereas it is true that this version of "Hamlet" with Richard Burton in the title role was a hit on Broadway, that's just part of the story behind the video release.

Burton had become an immensely popular actor after his scandalous marriage to Elizabeth Taylor during the rigors of filming "Cleopatra," in which he played the love-crazed Mark Anthony. After that film's long-delayed release (late 1963), the pair became "Hollywood royalty" with a world-wide following.

Developers/producers of Electronovision capitalized on their phenomenal popularity by arranging the taping of a dress rehearsal. It was released theatrically during the course of the play's Broadway run.

Electronovision was another version of closed-circuit TV; hence, the master videotape is in black-and-white.

A later try with Electronovision was the 1965 closed-circuit, theatrical release of "Harlow," which starred Carol Lynley as 1930s movie actress Jean Harlow. It barely preceded the 1965 film of the same name (Carroll Baker in title role). Although that film was forced to rush through production, it didn't finish in time to be the "first."

Critics of that period, who were not all impressed with this "new medium," really lashed out at this one, which they claimed went "against all ethics."

To my recall, that controversy ended Electronovision.






















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