What Should I Watch?

February 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm (Asides, Film Adaptations) (, , , , , )

I’m thinking ahead about which film versions of each play I should watch. Please give me your suggestions.

The Wikipedia article looks pretty good, so I’m using that as a starting place. I think I am going to focus on the more recent films, although I will consider going back further (like the 1960s and maybe even the 1950s) when there are films that are really must-sees (like West Side Story and Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet).

I plan to watch all the BBC productions. I’m looking forward to seeing Roger Daltrey in A Comedy of Errors!

I’ll watch Franco Zeffirelli’s films and anything Kenneth Branagh touched, as well.

So, I feel like I have a solid foundation on basic productions. Any other suggestions? What about the old ones directed by Laurence Olivier—are they good? What else? Help me.

I also want suggestions for good or interesting adaptations. Thanks to Renee who commented about loving adaptations like West Side Story and listed several others.

Here are a few I’m considering:

Henry IV: My Own Private Idaho

King Lear: A Thousand Acres, Ran

Macbeth: Scotland PA, Throne of Blood

Othello: O

The Comedy of Errors: The Boys from Syracuse

The Taming of the Shrew: Kiss Me Kate, Ten Things I Hate About You

The Tempest: Prospero’s Books

Twelfth Night: She’s the Man, Just One of the Guys

Renee and everyone—help me fill out my to-watch list and please warn me away from losers. 

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  1. Ted Leach said,

    Some good choices for adaptations. I’ve heard that not all the BBC films are worth the time on earth you’ll spend viewing them, though.

  2. Natty said,

    I REALLY hope you plan on watching “She’s the Man” (the Amanda Bynes version) because it is a personal favorite of Claire and I. I am sure you will not be a fan—but seriously kate, it’s hilarious!

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      “Claire and ME.” 🙂 (She’s my niece, so I can hassle her!)

      Umm yeah, thanks for that resounding vote of approval… it is on my list. Can’t wait!

  3. Tue Sorensen said,

    I have an extensive collection of Shakespeare plays on DVD – including some I haven’t gotten around to watching yet. The essential stuff is, of course, that by Branagh, Zeffirelli and Olivier. And the BBC set (of which, sadly, the Romeo and Juliet entry is pretty awful, but one of the only really bad ones in the set).

    Below I give you my personal top-30 of favorite Shakespeare DVDs (with the proviso that there are several reputedly good ones I haven’t seen yet, like Scofield’s Lear, and Zeffirelli’s Shrew) – all except one of these use the original Shakespearean text:

    1. Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
    2. Hamlet (1996)
    3. Titus (1999)
    4. Henry V (1989)
    5. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
    6. Twelfth Night (1996)
    7. Romeo and Juliet (1968)
    8. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)
    9. Julius Caesar (1953)
    10. Othello (1995)
    11. Romeo and Juliet (1954)
    12. Hamlet (BBC)
    13. King Lear (Olivier, 1982)
    14. Richard II (BBC)
    15. Hamlet (1990)
    16. As You Like It (BBC)
    17. Titus Andronicus (BBC, 1985)
    18. Henry VI, Part 3 (BBC)
    19. Othello (Olivier, 1965)
    20. Macbeth (Polanski, 1971)
    21. The Chimes at Midnight (1965)
    22. Henry VI, Part 2 (BBC)
    23. Antony and Cleopatra (BBC)
    24. Othello (Christopher Eccleston as Iago, 2001) (modern language)
    25. Taming of the Shrew (BBC)
    26. As You Like It (2006)
    27. Richard III (1995)
    28. Prospero’s Books (1991)
    29. Richard III (BBC)
    30. Hamlet (Olivier, 1948)

    I am greatly looking forward to Julie Taymor’s forthcoming version of The Tempest.

    I may also do a top list of adaptations one day, i.e. those not using Shakespeare’s text. Meanwhile, here are my personal ratings (IMDb style) of the entire BBC Shakespeare Collection, except for the three I haven’t seen yet (but will soon): Coriolanus, Pericles and The Winter’s Tale:

    All’s Well That Ends Well (1980) – 8 out of 10
    Antony and Cleopatra (1980) – 8 out of 10
    As You Like It (1978) – 8 out of 10
    The Comedy of Errors (1983) – 9 out of 10
    Cymbeline (1982) – 5 out of 10
    Hamlet (1980) – 9 out of 10
    Henry IV Part 1 (1979) – 9 out of 10
    Henry IV Part 2 (1979) – 9 out of 10
    Henry V (1979) – 7 out of 10
    Henry VI Part 1 (1981 – transmitted 1983) – 8 out of 10
    Henry VI Part 2 (1981 – transmitted 1983) – 9 out of 10
    Henry VI Part 3 (1982 – transmitted 1983) – 10 out of 10
    Henry VIII (1979) – 8 out of 10 (rewatch)
    Julius Caesar (1978) – 7 out of 10
    King Lear (1982) – 6 out of 10
    The Life and Death of King John (1984) – 8 out of 10
    Love’s Labour’s Lost (1984) – 8 out of 10
    Macbeth (1982 – transmitted 1983) – 6 out of 10
    Measure for Measure (1978) – 9 out of 10
    The Merchant of Venice (1980) – 8 out of 10
    The Merry Wives of Windsor (1982) – 9 out of 10
    A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1981) – 7 out of 10
    Much Ado About Nothing (1984) – 8 out of 10
    Othello (1981) – 8 out of 10
    Richard II (1978) – 10 out of 10
    Richard III (1982 – transmitted 1983) – 8 out of 10
    Romeo and Juliet (1978) – 5 out of 10
    The Taming of the Shrew (1980) – 8 out of 10
    Tempest (1979) – 8 out of 10
    Timon of Athens (1981) – 8 out of 10
    Titus Andronicus (1985) – 9 out of 10
    Troilus and Cressida (1981) – 8 out of 10
    Twelfth Night (1979) – 8 out of 10
    Two Gentlemen of Verona (1983) – 9 out of 10

    And, if you’re hungry for more, I also have this incomplete list of adaptations that can be found on DVD (I have seen a few of these, but not all of them – in general, I am not impressed):


    · Bad Sleep Well (1960)

    King Lear:
    · Broken Lance (1954)
    · Ran (1985)
    · A Thousand Acres (1997)
    · King of Texas (2002)

    · The Throne of Blood (1957)
    · Fury Is a Woman (1961)
    · Men of Respect (1989)

    · O (2001)
    · Othello (2001) (the Eccleston one)

    Romeo and Juliet:
    · West Side Story (1961)


    Richard III:
    · Street King (2002)


    The Comedy of Errors:
    · Angoor (1982)

    The Taming of the Shrew:
    · 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

    The Tempest:
    · Forbidden Planet (1956)

    Shakespeare Influenced Films:
    · To Be or Not to Be (1942)
    · A Double Life (1947)
    · Shakespeare Wallah (1965)
    · Theater of Blood (1973)
    · A Midsummer’s Sex Comedy (1982)
    · Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
    · My Own Private Idaho (1991)
    · Scotland PA (2002)

    Satisfied yet? 🙂

  4. Tue Sorensen said,

    Since you’re reading R&J, I’d especially like to point you in the direction of the 1954 film version. It takes place in the actual Verona itself, and is beautifully shot and acted. A great achievement (in full color), and a very classical (as opposed to modern) version. I think you will love it.

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      Once again, you rock! It looks beautiful. Netflix doesn’t have it, so I just ordered it on eBay.

  5. Renee said,

    Have you considered Woody Allen’s “A Midsumer Night’s Sex Comedy” Of course, you’ve got to be in the mood for a woody Allen flick… and a not so great one at that. But I think it fits in there as an adaptation…… somewhere….

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      Hi Renee, thanks, yep I have that in my Netflix queue. Also, I found this one, Picture This, which isn’t in Netflix. I thought of you when I read about it:

      I ordered a DVD from Australia. If you’re interested, I’ll send it to you after I watch it. There’s a trailer to watch here:

      • Renee said,

        That’s funny! I googled “Picture This” and got an Ashley Tisdale movie. I’m glad that wasn’t the right one!

        I’d love to watch it if it’s another that you want to get OUT OUT OUT of the house! LOL!

  6. Tue Sorensen said,

    Now that you mention it, I haven’t actually seen Sex Comedy, but I will try to get hold of it post-haste! Thanks for the heads up! 🙂

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