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(YouTube) Video Saturday Cinema - A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1935: Shakespeare's comic romance has everything. High culture. Many great quotes. Beautiful costumes. Jimmy Cagney in tights   ( divider line
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688 clicks; posted to Video » on 28 Jun 2014 at 1:19 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2014-06-28 10:36:06 AM

In case you don't know it, two couples hie it out of town because their parents don't want them to marry. Unfortunately, the stumble into a dispute between the king and queen of the forest fairies and much merriment and confusion result thanks to magical mixed identities and love potions. It all ends well and those who have a talent for it live and love happily ever after.

This was the one Hollywood film for Austrian theatre director Max Reinhardt, then very famous as a theatre director. Reinhardt didn't speak English so William Dieterle acted as his interpreter and co-director.  He decided to use the famous music written for the ballet version by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as the film's soundtrack. The original 132-minute running length required extra music that composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold Korngold did without credit.

Here's a puff documentary from the period describing the making of the film.

Choreographers Busby Berkeley and Bobby Connolly visited the set to watch Bronislava Njinska at work. They apparently acted like pricks and Njinska had them barred.

The film won two Academy Awards: Best Cinematography for Hal Mohr and Best Film Editing for Ralph Dawson.  Mohr was not nominated; he won the Oscar thanks to a grass-roots write-in campaign.  None of Ernest Haller's photography is in the finished film; he was fired and replaced by Hal Mohr, who re-did everything that Haller had shot.

When the forest that Reinhardt designed could not be lighted sufficiently, Mohr thinned the trees slightly, sprayed them with aluminum paint and covered them with cobwebs and tiny metal particles to reflect the light. Moreover, and anyone who's ever shot black and white film will understand this, he ordered that orange paint be added to the set to create more contrast.

Mickey Rooney busted a leg during filming a large amount of changes to the shooting schedule. According to Rooney's memoirs, the unsympathetic studio boss Jack Warner was so furious that to break Rooney's other leg. Ultimately, when a double could not be used he was wheeled around behind bushes on a bicycle.

This film played every June on a local channel when I was growing up and I remember being so impressed by Oberon that it was clear why to my 10-year-old mind why a class of submarine was named after him. Canadian-born Victor Jory often played heavies but eared a lot of friends over his 150 film career, and a star on Hollywood Blvd. You may remember him as the bully overseer in Gone with the Wind.

Powell's misplaced in the film as one of the romantic leads and apparently knew it. He reportedly asked to be replaced buy studio bosses refused. He's certainly competent enough and went on to do other good work such and other weird things like directing an the awful John Wayne film where the western actor plays Gengis Kahn, but Powell's just not right given the mix of actors and actresses in Midsummer Night's Dream. This was

This is not to say that every actor needs to be Christopher Plummer or Ralph Richardson. For example, Hollywood tough guy Jimmy Cagney is in the film as a group of labourers who hope to win a pile of money by putting on the best entertainment at the king's wedding. Their show is a train wreck but their increasingly awful rehearsals leading to their eye-watering failure are lead by Cagney with typical two-fisted gusto. The diminutive dynamo makes it work.

In addition to dislike of some of the lead casting, the film had a shaky release. At the time, cinemas entered into a contract to show the film, but had the right to pull out within a specified period of time. Cancellations usually ran between 20 and 50 per film. The film established a new record with 2,971 cancellations. Booking agents had failed to correctly identify the film. Perhaps they thought they were booking a western instead of one of Shakespeare's most popular romantic comedies.

Hitler didn't like it. The movie was banned by Nazi Germany because  Reinhardt and  Mendelssohn-Bartholdy were Jews. F*cking bigots. They wouldn't know culture if it bit'em on the arse. But those who love it, love it a lot.  Here are some user reviews on IMDB.

Here's a link to last week's Saturday Cinema
Next week's Saturday doesn't have a clue but it does have flames. Flames on the side of its face. Flames. (Deep breath.)
2014-06-28 11:58:55 AM  
 Jack Warner was so furious that to break Rooney's other leg  = Jack Warner was so furious that he threatened to break Rooney's other leg

2014-06-28 12:32:28 PM  
Tights, the required uniform.
2014-06-28 01:40:03 PM  
'Made it, Ma! Top of the world!'
2014-06-29 07:24:43 AM  
I have a handy guide to movie watching.

Q: Does it include Mickey Rooney?

A: Yes.

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