Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Italy/USA, 1967. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Royal Films International, F.A.I.. Screenplay by Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Franco Zeffirelli, Paul Dehn, based on the play by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Oswald Morris. Produced by Elizabeth Taylor. Music by Nino Rota. Production Design by Lorenzo Mongiardino. Costume Design by Danilo Donati. Film Editing by Peter Taylor. Academy Awards 1967. Golden Globe Awards 1967.
The dream team of Burton and Taylor had one of their biggest hits together in this spirited adaptation of the Bard’s comedy. Kate (Elizabeth Taylor) is the viciously tempered elder sister of two whose younger sibling Bianca cannot marry the goodhearted Lucentio (Michael York) unless her sister is married first, as per their father’s wishes. Thankfully, in comes the loutish, unflappable Petruchio (Richard Burton) to take our lady in hand and give her what for. Franco Zeffirelli says that directing this was the most enjoyable experience of his career and it is easy to see why: the stars were never at their more attractive, nor was their chemistry ever more effective, and they make sparks fly on screen every time they strike up a fiery argument. Production details are lovingly plush, and the adaptation of the original play is sharp enough to keep the poetry intact while making it accessible to the less experienced viewer.