FIRST FOLIO! Movies and TV with Shakespearean Loves, Guns and Laughs – Part 1

~posted by Marion

Shakespeare has influenced me on and off during the years. My junior high school English class read Macbeth (while the teacher actually personified Lady Macbeth, the class banded together and survived). In college, we read several plays for a Shakespeare literature class, and I fondly remember being in a study group which produced the play within A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I was, literally, the lantern doth shine with my own lantern and tree stem. And on a trip to Italy, the tour group stopped in Verona and gazed at the famous balcony of Romeo and Juliet. Plus, knowing some Shakespeare quotes wittingly helped me on some dates, including with the guy who’s now my husband.

As a movie lover, I enjoy seeing Shakespeare’s influence popping up in film and television. Sometimes it’s just a sentence or two that sounds like it’s referring to William, as I lovingly and respectfully refer to him. I especially like those that are inspired by the Bard, rather than the actual plays or adaptations. My favorite (and surely others as well) is the award winning Shakespeare in Love, a comedy where Joseph Fiennes’ Shakespeare overcomes his writing block with the help of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Lady Viola.

In a nod to the First Folio Exhibit and to William, here are more movies and television shows where characters love thee so, where the worst is death, and there’s merrily much mirth and laughter.

All Night Long: Takes place over one evening in a 1960s London jazz club with a celebration for musician Aurelius Rex and his wife Delia, a retired singer (played respectively by Paul Harris and Marti Stevens). Back-stabbing and innuendos take place in this black-and-white film which features some prominent British and American jazz musicians.

Anonymous: Historical drama set late in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign that questions the authenticity of who actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

Ceasar Must Die (Cesare deve morire):  Set in Rome at a high-security prison, inmates prepare for a public production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and learn much more about themselves than the actual play’s lines. In Italian with English subtitles.

Damian Lewis Double Feature:  Two made-for-TV movies – one with love and work, actually office romance, in Britain in the 80s and 90s, and the second being the comedic story of ex-lover co-anchors for a regional news station.

Hamlet 2: A teacher in dire straits writes a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Elizabeth Shue and Amy Poehler star (along with lots of swearing) in this politically incorrect high school production set in Tucson, Arizona.

Me and Orson Welles: Christian McKay portrays Welles as a young teen cast in a 1937 production of Julius Caesar. Claire Danes also stars in this angst-filled, behind-the-scenes look at producing a theatre plroduction.

A Midwinter’s Tale: A Christmas production of Hamlet is staged with the hope of saving a local church in this comedy directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Michael Maloney and Joan Collins.

My Own Private Idaho:  Drugs, street life, and lost and new relationships lead River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves to take to the road in the Pacific Northwest. They part ways and meet up years later. Can life ever be the same?

Private Romeo:  Love blooms between two cadets at a military high school.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming tomorrow….


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