Baptista (Sir Michael Hordern), a rich Paduan merchant, announces that his fair young daughter, Bianca (Natasha Pyne), will remain unwed until her older sister, Katharina (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), a hellish shrew, has wed. Lucentio (Michael York), a student and the son of a wealthy Pisan merchant, has fallen in love with Bianca. He poses as a tutor of music and poetry to gain entrance to the Baptista household and to be near Bianca. Meanwhile, Petruchio (Richard Burton), a fortune-hunting scoundrel from Verona, arrives in Padua, hoping to capture a wealthy wife. Hortensio (Victor Spinetti), another suitor of Bianca, directs Petruchio's attention to Katharina. When Hortensio warns him about Katharina's scolding tongue and fiery temper, Petruchio is challenged and resolves to capture her love. Hortensio and another suitor of Bianca, Gremio (Alan Webb), agree to cover Petruchio's costs as he pursues Katharina.Written by
In the film, Katharina's angry line to Bianca "[tell] whom thou lovest best" (which Shakespeare actually wrote and which is grammatically correct) is changed to the grammatically incorrect "whom thou dost lovest best". In his review of the film, critic John Simon caught the error. See more »
[to his servants]
This is the way to kill a wife with kindness.
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Instead of the screen credit "The End" appearing at the end of the film, the line "God give you goodnight" appears, after which the rest of the closing credits are seen. See more »
70 mm and some 35 mm film prints feature an overture before the start of the film with a purple flower background and white words on it reading "OVERTURE" (this is not included on non-letterboxed video prints). This overture can be heard on letterboxed video prints on LD, DVD and some broadcast editions, including Turner Classic Movies. See more »
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
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