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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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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

The film was scheduled to be shown in cinemas for a week and then all copies were to be destroyed. Two prints survived. One was consigned to the BFI archives in London. Another print was found later in Richard Burton's estate after his death, which his widow allowed to be distributed as a DVD. See more »

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Version of He Wanted to Become King (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
See The Power Of Shakespere!
22 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is not a film of Hamlet in the traditional sense. It was not made especially for the screen. It is a filmed version of the famed 1964 Broadway production starring the late, great Richard Burton. This version was shown for four performances only on two days in 1964 and then was supposed to be destroyed and thus lost to future generations. But Burton had a copy and thanks to this we have this film. And we should be glad because we nearly lost one of the best versions of Hamlet ever to grace any screen.

Because of the fact it was filmed during a dress rehearsal, it does not have the lavish period sets, costumes, etc. of other versions. This is in fact a far different version in that regard. This version is down with the most minimal of sets and in modern (1960's), even casual clothing. This is not the film for those of you who think Shakespere means lavish costumes and sets. This is a film that focuses on the actors and the words of Shakespere. And that is what makes this film unique. Yet this is both a pro and con of the film. The props and costumes are minimal and this serves at times to distract from the performances which is a shame, since it really the only flaw of the filmed version of the production.

But this is a film that showcases the power of Shakespere. Richard Burton is at the height of his powers in the title role. He can be depresses, charming, loving, comedic, and threatening all in the same scene and never lose his ability to completely take in you as an audience member. His rendition of the "To be or not to be" speech is awe inspiring to see and hear. He never fails to capture the character and this is nothing short of a great performance.

The rest of the cast is terrific as well. Hume Cronyn is terrific as Polonius playing a bumbling and, at times, oxymoron version of the character (for which I do believe he won a Tony Award). Alfred Drake is well suited as Claudius, though he is a bit wooden at times. Eileen Herlie is virtually perfect as Gertrude. Linda Marsh is particularly impressive as the love struck Ophelia and has great chemistry with Burton making their relationship all the more believable. Add on other great actors and an appearance by George Voskovec as the Player King and even a cameo by the play's director Sir John Gielgud as the ghost of King Hamlet to the mix as well.

Overall despite the limitations of this stage version, this is a terrific version of Hamlet. It is carried not by the usual sets and costumes but by the sheer power of actors and some of the greatest words ever to be put to page. If you are going the different versions of Hamlet, this would be a good place to start. See not only a great play, but an acting legend at the height of his powers. These are the reasons to see this version of Hamlet.


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