Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1935. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Charles Kenyon, Mary C. McCall Jr, based on the play by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Hal Mohr. Produced by Henry Blanke. Music by Leo F. Forbstein. Production Design by Anton Grot. Costume Design by Max Ree. Film Editing by Ralph Dawson. Academy Awards 1935.
A cavalcade of Warner Bros. stars appears in this excellent adaptation of Shakespeare’s beloved fantasy, in which two sets of lovers take to the forests of ancient Athens and end up having their emotions played with by mystical creatures of the night. Mickey Rooney is energetic (actually a bit too frantic) as Puck, the misbehaving imp who constantly confuses the Fairy King’s orders and creates all sorts of mixups. Meanwhile, the Fairy Queen has, thanks to her husband’s misplaced magical concoctions, fallen in love with the leader of a band of players who have been rehearsing in the woods, immediately after his head has been turned into that of a donkey’s! Felix Mendelssohn’s beautiful score is used as background to this elegant film, which features plenty of ballet dancing in between the extremely well-acted and well-adapted scenes. The photography is gorgeous, with magical silvery lighting shimmering everywhere as magic infiltrates the deep forests. James Cagney is excellent as the ass-headed Bottom, and Olivia de Havilland appears in an early film role as Hermia (it was originally to be played by Gloria Stuart, but she fell ill and was replaced by her understudy).