In Shakespeare's classic play, the Montagues and Capulets, two families of Renaissance Italy, have hated each other for years, but the son of one family and the daughter of the other fall desperately in love and secretly marry.
Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.
The Montagues and the Capulets, two powerful families of Verona, hate each other. Romeo, son of Montague, crashes a Capulet party, and there meets Juliet, daughter of Capulet. They fall passionately in love. Since their families would disapprove, they marry in secret. Romeo gets in a fight with Tybalt, nephew of Lady Capulet, and kills him. He is banished from Verona. Capulet, not knowing that his daughter is already married, proceeds with his plans to marry Juliet to Paris, a prince. This puts Juliet in quite a spot, so she goes to the sympathetic Friar Laurence, who married her to Romeo. He suggests a daring plan to extricate her from her fix. Tragedy ensues.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
Scenes of combat that will stir your pulse...tender haunting romance that will stay ever fresh in your memory...spectacular beauty that will set a feast for your eyes...in the greatest melodramatic romance of all time...presented as it has never been before...the final glorious flower of motion picture achievement.
Because she wanted to play the Nurse in this film, Edna May Oliver turned down Universal's offer to reprise her stage role of Parthy Ann Hawks in the 1936 film version of Show Boat (1936). The Nurse turned out to be Oliver's only Shakespearean role. See more »
Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.
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While I was looking for new materials to help teach "Romeo and Juliet," I found the 1936 version of the play and naturally I was intrigued. I'm assuming that most people know the basic plot and have seen other versions of the film, if this is not the case you may want to stop reading and keep the surprise for viewing.
This version is faithful if not to the exact order of all the dialogue then to the acts and scenes written by Shakespeare. For those teachers that are looking for a version that explains how the letter from Friar Lawrence never reaches Romeo and the reaction of the local populace to "Plague," this is the version that does it very well. Not only do we learn why Friar John never gets to Romeo but we also get the death duel between Romeo and Paris, a scene that has been cut out of every other version I've seen. Plus we get the closing moment of peace between the families. However, the death of Lady Montague is omitted.
The movie leaves a little to be desired by modern audiences and the typical class of high school freshman many need some heavy prep work to get them ready to view "black and white" and "old" as something other than "lame." But, I think that segments of the film would be well worth showing to the class and viewed as a treat and not a torture when it's not the whole product being shoved down in one lump.
I recommend checking it out as an additional resource to add a balanced movie perspective to the characters Shakespeare created. The main problem with it is the age of the actors playing the parts of all these young people. Leslie Howard is 40 years old. Norma Shearer must be of a similar age and it shows in some of the scenes. The age of the people supposedly playing teenagers does strain credibility and at times the acting leaves a lot to be desired. They don't convincingly play "passion." You can chalk the overall feeling of muted emotion to the era because at times the emotions do come through brilliantly.
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