The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Baptista, a rich Paduan merchant, announces that his fair young daughter, Bianca, will remain unwed until her older sister, Katharina, a hellish shrew, has wed. Lucentio, a student and the son of a wealthy Pisan merchant, has fallen in love with Bianca. He poses as a tutor of music and poetry to gain entrance to the Baptista household and to be near Bianca. Meanwhile, Petruchio, a fortune-hunting scoundrel from Verona, arrives in Padua, hoping to capture a wealthy wife. Hortensio, another suitor of Bianca, directs Petruchio's attention to Katharina. When Hortensio warns him about Katharina's scolding tongue and fiery temper, Petruchio is challenged and resolves to capture her love. Hortensio and another suitor of Bianca, Gremio, agree to cover Petruchio's costs as he pursues Katharina. Written by
This is a film version of a Shakespeare play the way Shakespeare would have wanted it to be seen - as funny and entertaining. The gorgeous colour in the sets and costumes reminds us that this story is taking place in sunny Italy - maybe it takes an Italian director to realize and bring out that light-hearted joyfulness. The actors are all wonderful, so natural in their roles that the Shakespearean verse sounds like believable daily conversation. Richard Burton is perfect as Petruchio, a self-confident, swaggering lout at the beginning, who in a way undergoes his own "taming" process to become a loving husband, proud of his wife and delighted with the happiness ahead of them. Elizabeth Taylor as an actress is not really up to the demands of Shakespeare, but she certainly looks her part, and on the whole does pretty well, especially as she is given a lot of action rather than speaking in this film, until the very end. Zeffirelli does wonderful things with the visuals - the scene at the beginning, when what appears to be a solemn church service suddenly erupts into a wild carnival can be seen as a joking reflection of the typical viewer's reaction to this happy treatment of Shakespeare; where we expect to be bored by solemn, po-faced reverence in the presence of Art, we suddenly find ourselves swept away in a merry romp. And the recurring glimpses of a huge grotesque blonde woman continually attended by her small, dark-haired pretty sister, always scaring away the latter's possible suitors is a witty summary of the main story we are watching. This movie is a great introduction to Shakespeare for anyone who hasn't seen his plays before, and a perfect antidote for anyone who's been intimidated into thinking that Shakespeare is "too hard" for anyone but experts and scholars to understand.
40 of 43 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?