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|Index||61 reviews in total|
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.
This is Burton and Taylor's best film together. It is full of color and
fun, and some very fine comedy. All of the actors are brilliant in it.
It's a big, romping chase of a movie, and when you hear Petruchio's deep
chuckle, it makes you laugh, too.
It's based on the bare bones of Shakespeare's play about Baptista, a rich man with two unmarried daughters. The older daughter is so nasty that no one can stand her long enough to marry her, and everyone in town wants to marry the younger daughter but can't till the older is married off. A bad-mannered fortune hunter shows up and agrees to take the older daughter off the father's hands for a steep price. After the marriage, Petruchio sets about breaking the pride of Kate, and eventually he wears her down, but she works her own magic on him, and in the end they both find that they love each other.
Richard Burton should have won the Oscar for this role; he IS Petruchio. It's a national disgrace that he didn't get it. And Liz is really good as Kate. She makes us believe that she is a horrible shrew, and when her soft side emerges she makes us believe that she could have been sweet all along.
If you can find this film at all, try to watch it in it's letterbox version. You miss far too much of the action in the pan and scan format. It's shown on cable quite a bit, but mostly on the pay channels.
Shakespeare's bawdy comedy was perhaps the perfect vehicle for the Burtons
four years into their real-life stormy marriage. Although Liz Taylor had no
experience of playing the bard' she is actually entertaining as Kate, that
fiery girl who has no intention of becoming any man's plaything or
possession. Richard Burton is on surer ground as Petruchio and doesn't
disappoint, this is a rip-roaring performance and one of his
In Zeffirelli's cast we also see Michael Hordern, Cyril Cusack, Natasha Pyne (as Kate's sister Bianca), and Michael York (making his film debut as Bianca's suitor). The action can drag a bit when away from the leads (who always did tend to swamp other players in their movies), but the wit and mischief of the original play shines through. My only quibble would be with Kate's final speech. Interesting that Taylor plays it this way, but my guess is that it isn't the end of the bumpy ride for these two!
In Italy, Franco Zeffirelli is best known for his work in grand opera,
and he brought all his experience in this larger than life art form to
bear upon the two films for which he is best known, the 1968 ROMEO AND
JULIET and the 1967 THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Scholars usually consider Shakespeare's THE TAMING OF THE SHREW to be among the playwrights lesser works, but it has been an audience favorite since its first known performance in 1594. Although many suitors beg for Bianca's hand, her widowed father is determined that she may not marry until her elder sister Katherine is wed--and Katherine is a hot tempered, willful, and vicious woman who makes life miserable for all who cross her path. Fortunately for Bianca, Petruchio is in need of money, and he is more than willing to marry Kate, no matter how resistant Kate herself is to the whole idea.
Shakespeare's original script has been trimmed here and there, and while purists may scream about it the result not only works for film, it also manages to capture the flavor of Shakespeare's language much better than any other film version of SHREW both before or since. And the look of the thing is beautiful: Zeffirelli brings his mastery of opera's larger than life visuals to bear upon the project, and the result is eye-popping production values, most particularly in reference to the costuming. Every cent spent shows on the screen.
Although she was a very fine screen actress, Elizabeth Taylor is not a name one would expect to find playing Shakespeare--but she carries it off in fine style, kicking, snapping, and snarling with tremendous panache in the first portion of the film, and then making Kate's "taming" seem entirely plausible in the latter portion. Unlike many later Shakespeare plays, SHREW is not greatly noted for its language; even so, Katherine's final speech is widely known and extremely memorable, and Taylor pulls it off with such credibility that one wishes she had done other classical roles as well.
Taylor's then-husband Richard Burton co-stars as the deliberately uncouth Petruchio, who sets out to tame a shrew and finds himself as much tamed by her as she by him. Burton, of course, was accustomed to the classics in general and Shakespeare in particular, and he plays with tremendous bravado. The supporting cast, which includes a young Michael York, is also very fine, and when all is said and done the 1964 THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is a tremendous amount of fun even if you don't like Shakespeare.
The DVD transfer is very nice. The picture has the occasional blemish, most often in the opening titles and closing credits, but on the whole it is remarkable, showing every detail of every set and every costume to fine effect. The sound is also quite good. Sad to say, there is really nothing in the way of bonus material, but the film is the thing, and Taylor, Burton, York, and Zefirelli do it up brown. More than just worth watching: worth owning.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton at their peak are a joy to behold--they
infuse this gorgeous film of "The Taming of the Shrew" with so much life and
energy, that it becomes a wonderful, bouyant, three-ring circus of entertainment. The sets and costumes of Zeffirelli's meticulously recreated Renaissance Italy are ravishingly beautiful. Each scene is composed like a painting--and Nino
Rota's score complelemnts the film perfectly. His melodies ring in the air long after the film has ended. Shakespeare would have been delighted.
I saw the movie on DVD and liked it. I think if Shakespeare were alive today he would have like. Taylor and Burton do justice to their roles and the movie also introduced a brilliant actor Michael York as Lucentio. I had read the play and had seen the movie 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU which was loosely based on the play. When I got a chance to see the movie, I grabbed it. Elizabeth Taylor as Katharina the shrew is brilliant. She shows why is much more than a celebrity. Richard Burton shines as Petruchio. Franco Zeffirelli is a reputed director and he shows why. A must see movie for the fans of Shakespeare and the play.
There is no denying Franco Zeffirelli's visual sensibility, nor his dramatic
takes this Shakespearean comedy, chops and cuts and edits the text to his
regurgitates a wonderful film. If one were to watch the film without sound,
it would still
be entertaining, that is how well Zeffirelli put it together. But it
wouldn't be enough
without a terrific Kate, and Elizabeth Taylor, certainly in her prime in
1967, more than
fills the bill. She hams it up when hamming is appropriate to the moment,
and plays it
with more subtlety when that is required. She is well matched by Richard
Petruchio. He is good, but there is something not quite there. I think
he seems more jaded and a tad less calculating than I'd expect in the role.
I think I prefer
the more caustic performance of John Cleese in this role.
I can't help but wonder what Zeffirelli would've done with an operatic version of this play.
The best 'Hollywood' (via Italy) ever did for Shakespear. Burton and Taylor were married at the time and played off exceptionally well together. Finally, Elizabeth Taylor in her final speach once again established herself as an actress over being a just celebrity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In this production of The Taming of the Shrew it was Richard Burton's
way of letting his wife Elizabeth Taylor in on his world, the world of
the classics. He's wonderful as Petruchio and she acquits herself well
as the shrewish Katharine.
Michael Hordern is the harried father of the lovely Bianca and her older sister, the beautiful, but independent Katherine. The sisters, Natasha Pyne and Elizabeth Taylor are as different as they come. Young Michael York is most interested in Pyne, but Hordern wants to see the older daughter married off at first. But Taylor scares off would be suitors.
Enter Richard Burton who's a roguish fortune hunter, but Hordern is quite willing to overlook that if he'll just take Taylor off his hands. The rest of the film concerns both Burton and York's parallel quests for their mates.
The Taming of the Shrew is probably best known to today's audience as the basis for Cole Porter's biggest Broadway success, Kiss Me Kate. Yet it's still stands well on its own as William Shakespeare's most rollicking comedy and a medieval treatise on feminism. Yet even when it's over, you're not quite sure just how submissive of a medieval wife Elizabeth Taylor will be.
Director Franco Zefirelli recreated medieval Padua with a great eye for detail. In that wedding, I'm sure he must have gotten Richard Burton good and plastered for the scene. Burton was one of the most legendary imbibers in screen history, but that scene was way too real to be just acting.
Laurence Olivier supposedly once told Richard Burton that he had a choice of being the greatest classical actor of his generation or a movie star. Too which Burton is supposed to have replied that he wanted both. I think he succeeded with The Taming of the Shrew.
Liz and Dick, you gotta love them in this...somehow you feel you may be getting more insight into their personal life than intended. One of the great things about this film is that it's made Shakespeare accessible to many more folks who might not have even bothered otherwise. Zefferili does for Shakespeare what Emeril does for cuisine--makes it entertaining while keeping all the quality. And what a fun production--great costumes, a young Michael York, lots of sexy repartee. A good choice for a snowy night when you'd rather stay in. It keeps you pretty entertained throughout, simplifies some of the plot intricacies. One drawback is that Miss Taylor appears to be a little long in the tooth to be playing a young, never-married, girl.
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