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Hamlet (I) (1964)

 -  Drama  -  23 September 1964 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 282 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 4 critic

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 7.5/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Alfred Drake ...
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William Redfield ...
George Rose ...
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Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hugh Alexander ...
Philip Coolidge ...
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Michael Ebert ...
Dillon Evans ...
Clement Fowler ...
Geoff Garland ...
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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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Drama

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Release Date:

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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Version of Shakespeare: The Animated Tales: Hamlet (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hard to find and too often overlooked!
9 September 1999 | by (Houston) – See all my reviews

Difficult to find since it is essentially a video taping of a Broadway performance, but this is a Hamlet not to be missed! Under the firm directorial hand of John Gielgud, Richard Burton creates one of the memorable Hamlets. He rivals Olivier in a very different interpretation. It is important to remember when watching this one that it is not a movie! Still, Burton vividly demonstrates that he could have been the first classical actor of his generation had he focused on that phase of his career. Gielgud appears as the Ghost of King Hamlet and is magnificent in the role. Hume Cronyn is perfection as Polonius. The remainder of the cast is good but not breathtaking. Trivia Buffs!! Who plays the Player Queen in this version (yes, Player Queen)-- a very young Christoper Culkin. Long before he shortened that first name to Kit and fathered MacCauley.

Burton had instructed that after a limited theatrical release all copies of this were to be destroyed. It is fortunate for those of us who love this play and love great classical acting that somewhere someone failed to follow instructions. If you can find a copy by all means rent it.


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