Sir John Falstaff (Orson Welles) is the hero in this compilation of extracts from Shakespeare's "Henry IV" and other plays, made into a connected story of Falstaff's career as young Prince Hal's (Keith Baxter's) drinking companion. The massive Knight roisters with and without the Prince, philosophizes comically, goes to war (in his own fashion), and meets his final disappointment, set in a real-looking late medieval England.
The corpse of Hotspur opens and closes his mouth several minutes after his death. See more »
Jesus, the days that we have seen! Do you remember since we lay all night in the windmill in St. George's field?
No more of that, Master Shallow.
It was a merry night!
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Orson Welles brings a lot of depth to Shakespeare's characters.
Shakespeare Scholars are always complaining how this film used and abused Shakespeare's plays but I think what was done in this film was pretty clever: Take the character of Falstaff from several plays and piece them together to get a complete picture of the man.
Of the two Orson Welles Shakespeare films I've seen, this one and "Othello" (1954), both had the ability to make me want to read Shakespeare's plays and any film that makes you want to read what the author wrote is a very positive thing to say about a film. So there Shakespeare Scholars!
I did go out and buy the books with the plays used in this film, much like trying to solve a puzzle to see how the pieces really fit. And Orson did twist and bend things a little to make it come out his way.
I also read in Videohound's "World Cinema" (1999) by Elliot Wilhelm that this film may be getting a restoration. If it's as good a restoration as "Othello", I'm looking forward to it!
Welles as Falstaff really shines in this film and Falstaff's later rejection by Henry V is one of the most sobering in cinema. And Welles still has some very creative power left in him by 1965, look at the Battle of Shrewsbury scenes. When it comes to battle scenes they've been done probably only 10 different ways by 1000 directors in a 1000 movies over the years, but this one is probably the most memorable. It's also strange to have in the heat of battle Falstaff looking like a big metal beach ball running around back and forth trying to avoid any conflict.
This film is also a good example of good music and how to use it in a film and it's another one of my favorite movies about Merrie ol' England.
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