The Merchant of Venice has been filmed for television several times, and despite its questionable anti- semitism, remains one of the most popular and solid of Shakespeare's plays.
As a piece of theatre, this version is well-paced and well-cast - Maggie Smith as Portia, Christopher Gable as Bassanio, Charles Gray as Antonio, Frank Finlay as Shylock. The only poor acting comes from Nerys Hughes as Nerissa, quiet reactions without overacting is obviously not her strong point.
With the menace of Shylock pitted against the cunning of Portia, the courtroom scene in particular shines, while the comedy element with suitors and caskets works well and better than the cheap shots taken in the Olivier version a year later.
Hugely enjoyable and now happily available in the Maggie Smith at the BBC box set.
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