When the Duke of Vienna takes a mysterious leave of absence and leaves the strict Angelo in charge, things couldn't be worse for Claudio, who is sentenced to death for premarital sex. His ... See full summary »



1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Contemporary re-working of the Shakespeare's problem play set in the British army.

Director: Bob Komar
Stars: Josephine Rogers, Daniel Roberts, Simon Phillips
Othello (TV Movie 1981)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A general becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair, even though there is no evidence.

Director: Jonathan Miller
Stars: Anthony Pedley, Bob Hoskins, Geoffrey Chater
The Tempest (TV Movie 1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Exiled Prospero lives on a desolate island with his daughter, Miranda. When Prospero's usurping brother sails by the island, Prospero conjures a storm that wrecks the ship and changes all of their lives.

Director: John Gorrie
Stars: Michael Hordern, Derek Godfrey, David Waller
King Lear (TV Movie 1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly ... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Miller
Stars: John Shrapnel, Norman Rodway, Michael Kitchen
The Taming of the Shrew (TV Movie 1980)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The swaggering Petruchio, eager to wive it wealthily in Padua, agrees to marry the spitting hellcat, Katherine.

Director: Jonathan Miller
Stars: Simon Chandler, Anthony Pedley, John Franklyn-Robbins
Henry V (TV Movie 1979)
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In the midst of the Hundred Years' War in 1415, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France.

Director: David Giles
Stars: John Abineri, Robert Ashby, Trevor Baxter
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (TV Movie 1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In 16th century Italy, two inseparable friends suddenly become rivals for the love of a noblewoman.

Director: Don Taylor
Stars: Frank Barrie, Tessa Peake-Jones, Hetta Charnley
The Winter's Tale (TV Movie 1981)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

King Leontes of Bohemia suspects his wife, Hermione, and his friend, Polixenes, of betraying him. When he forces Polixenes to flee for his life, Leontes sets in motion a chain of events ... See full summary »

Director: Jane Howell
Stars: John Welsh, David Burke, Robert Stephens
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

A plotting Duke leaves his kingdom in the hands of a prudish soldier, who evokes an arcane law making fornication punishable by death - but who then abuses his power when he becomes obsessed with an even more chaste young man.

Director: Gabriel Manwaring
Stars: Howard Adler, Jarod Christopher Alford, Howard Asher
Julius Caesar (TV Movie 1979)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The assassination of the would be ruler of Rome at the hands of Brutus and company has tragic consequences for Brutus and the republic.

Director: Herbert Wise
Stars: Richard Pasco, Charles Gray, Keith Michell
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Anne Clifford
Stars: Natalie Richardson, Richard Harper, Craig Foster

Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, The main themes include justice, "mortality and mercy in Vienna," and the dichotomy between corruption and purity: "some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall."

Director: Richard Kenyon
Stars: Haysam Kadri, Ashley Taylor Brown


Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Strauli ...
Jacqueline Pearce ...
Mistress Overdone
Ellis Jones ...
John Clegg ...
William Sleigh ...
Neil McCarthy ...
Yolande Palfrey ...
Eileen Page ...


When the Duke of Vienna takes a mysterious leave of absence and leaves the strict Angelo in charge, things couldn't be worse for Claudio, who is sentenced to death for premarital sex. His sister, Isabella (a nun-in-training), however, is a very persuasive pleader. She goes to Angelo, but instead of freeing her brother, she gets an offer from Angelo to save Claudio's life if Isabella sleeps with him. The only sympathetic friend Isabella has is a priest who, in actuality, is the Duke in disguise...and he has a plan. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 February 1979 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Measure for Measure  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


For the interview scenes, Desmond Davis decided to link them aesthetically and shot both in the same manner; Angelo was shot upwards from waist level to make him look large, Isabella was shot from further away so more background was visible in her shots, making her appear smaller. Gradually, the shots then move towards each other's style so that, by the end of the scene, they are both shot in the same framing. See more »


Version of Measure for Measure (2006) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Made-For-Television Classic; Kate Nelligan in a Play of Ideas
18 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

Back in the 1970s, someone in England had the extraordinary idea of producing a made-for-television version of all the plays attributed to The Shakespearean Poet, who hid behind the name and person of "William Shakespeare". The idea was hubristic and more than a bit silly, since the usual practice in such an undertaking would be to produce an "all-star" version"--casting the best actors available for each part as Herbert Von Karajan tried to do when he recorded versions of famous operas for posterity. In this case, the choice of actors often seemed to be based on no discernible nor announced purpose; and the result was filmed versions of 37 plays which were extraordinarily uneven in quality, with many lines being read by youthful actors lacking classical training and/or ability. The best of all these version, in many ways, for actors and writers alike I believe to have been "Measure For Measure". Those seeking the true identity of "Shakespeare" could do worse, I suggest, than by starting with the fact that the playwright set three plays in 'Bohemia', which he must have visited to gain the knowledge of its constitution he showed, that he was fundamentally a Medieval not a Renaissance mentality and that by his writing's complexity, length and contexted idea-quality he was obviously over forty-five years of age when he began writing for the public stage in 1590. Bohemia was a kingdom independent under a moralistic government as early as 1530. Here it offered the playwright a chance to demonstrate the difference between personal belief and an enforced religious puritanism which lacked all the qualities of a true religion and none of those of an authoritarian dictatorship. The play involves a seemingly virtuous fellow, Angelo, who with the city's leader gone, is in charge in his place--even though he is being tested by that worthy without knowing this is so, for the leader remains to watch his course of action. His major problem involves young Claudio, who violates a statute by impregnating one Mariana outside of wedlock. He is willing to marry here, happy to do so, except that he has been clapped into jail and is awaiting execution. Isabella, his sister, speaks for him, with great effect; too great, since the future nun is propositioned by Angelo--he will spare her brother if she will let him make love to her. The effects of this triangle, as the cowardly Claudio begs his sister to submit, becomes dramatically tense. Will the Duke step forward and intervene? Will Angelo relent? Will Isabella surrender herself? Will Claudio be murdered by the iron letter of the law/ The plot is unusually strong, of course; and most everything is resolved by the ending. But the revelation of the difference between true faith, the monastic sort, which even agnostics can admire in Isabella and the puritanical-dictatorial pseudo-religion of Angelo which is worldly, divisive and totalitarian and utterly impractical is revealed here very clearly...A word of caution to post-1994 sufferers from theocratic pretensions from the Renaissance's minds is strongly spoken by the Shakespearean Poet here. This is unarguably largely a photographed stage play; but some minor dialogue has been excised, some clever camera-work introduced; and the production's entire middle section moves along quite effectively--the internal "dream sequence" between the exposition and first statement and the resolution of a theatrical work often works well with a bit of trimming when a play is translated into cinematic space-time events. Odette Barrow's costumes are good and Stuart Walker's production design is unobtrusive and serviceable at all points. Desmond Davis directed the production and by any standard I know his work appears to have been admirable by its results. Kate Nelligan's impersonation of Isabella is award-caliber and a lasting tribute to her dramatic ability. She is tragic, sweet, intelligent, sympathetic and desirable all at once. As Angelo, Tim Piggot-Smith does quite well in a difficult part for a young act; his intelligence and his ability to read a good one-liner serve him well. As Claudio, Christopher Strauli gets a good deal out of a part that in lesser hands can be repetitive. As the comical Pompey "The Great", Frank Middlemass has his finest cinematic part ever. Kenneth Colley is likable and interesting as the watchful Duke who tests Angelo, and as Escalus Kevin Stoney has a difficult part filled with reactions, remonstrations and nuances which he handles very professionally by my standards. Others in the cast include Adrienne Corri as Mistress Overdone, Eileen Page as Francesca, Yolanda Vasquez as Juliet, Jacqueline Pearce as the long-suffering Mariana, John Mcenery as Lucio and several more, all well-cast and more than adequate to their tasks. This is an attractive production which I find to be interesting as an ethical and moral question and well-paced as a realization of the playwright's intention. of all the series of BBC Shakespearean productions, this is the one I regard as the most cinematic and the most successful. I recommend it to the viewer whenever it is shown, if only for Kate Nelligan's lovely achievement.

4 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anybody seen this ? FlorenceLawrence
Discuss Measure for Measure (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: