Romeo and Juliet


2h 5m 1936
Romeo and Juliet

Brief Synopsis

Shakespeare's classic tale of young lovers from feuding families.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Period
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 16, 1936
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 20 Aug 1936
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (London, ca. 1596, published 1597).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 5m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
14 reels

Synopsis

In Verona, Italy, during the Middle Ages, the feuding between the Capulet and Montague clans, which has been a tradition for many generations, continues when members of the Capulet family quarrel with the Montagues in the town square and engage in a sword fight. One day, Juliet, a Capulet, consents to meet Paris, whom her mother wishes her to marry, at a banquet. Meanwhile, Romeo, a Montague, who has been spurned by his love Rosaline, is advised by his friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, to seek another sweetheart and forget Rosaline. When Romeo receives an invitation to the Capulet ball, he decides to forgo the event, but changes his mind when he learns that Rosaline is expected to attend. At the party, Romeo's attentions turn away from Rosaline as soon as he takes notice of Juliet. Romeo and Juliet instantly fall in love and seal their love with a kiss. No sooner does Romeo find a new sweetheart, however, than he discovers that Juliet is a Capulet. When Juliet learns that Romeo is a Montague, she retires to her balcony, where she sadly contemplates her misfortune. Romeo, who has been hiding in the shadows of Juliet's garden, overhears her calling out his name and emerges to profess his love for her. Juliet then asks Romeo to marry her, and they agree to wed the next day. After arranging a clandestine wedding at Friar Laurence's cell, Romeo sends a message to Juliet by way of her nurse. At the same time, Tybalt, Lady Capulet's hotblooded nephew, becomes angry at Romeo's involvement with Juliet and challenges him to a duel. Romeo, however, is too much in love to respond to Tybalt's threats and decides not to fight. Mercutio, on the other hand, believes that Romeo has sacrificed his honor by not defending himself against Tybalt, and fights Tybalt himself. Mercutio is killed in the ensuing battle. When Romeo learns of Mercutio's death, he becomes incensed and demands a duel with Tybalt. Tybalt dies by Romeo's sword, and Romeo is forced to take refuge at Friar Laurence's cell, where he learns that a proclamation has been issued ordering his banishment. While waiting for Romeo to meet her at her balcony, Juliet is informed by her nurse of Tybalt's death and of Romeo's exile. Despite the tragic death of her cousin, Juliet proves her unwavering love for Romeo when she allows him onto her balcony for one last reunion. Following Romeo's hasty departure, Lady Capulet enters Juliet's room and believes that her daughter's tears are for Tybalt. When Juliet's mother sends her to speak with her father, he offers her no comfort and insists that she marry Paris. Juliet pleads with her father to reconsider his demand, but he threatens her with banishment if she refuses to abide by his order. Desperate, Juliet seeks the advice of Friar Laurence, who suggests that she take a potion that will make her appear dead for forty-two hours. Although the friar sends a message to Romeo informing him of Juliet's feigned death, the message is never delivered to him because the messenger, Friar John, is quarantined when he comes into contact with the pestilence. Meanwhile, as the Capulets prepare for Juliet's wedding banquet, Juliet's nurse discovers Juliet, apparently dead, and relates the news to her family. Romeo is devastated by the news of Juliet's death and decides to join Juliet in her grave. When Friar Laurence discovers that his message to Romeo was never delivered, he hastens to the Capulet family tomb to prevent Romeo's suicide. Just before he drinks a poisoned potion, Romeo is challenged by Paris to a sword fight, and Paris is slain. Friar Laurence arrives at the tomb moments after Romeo has taken his poison. When Juliet awakens, she learns of Romeo's suicide and, grief-stricken, stabs herself with Romeo's dagger. Following the tragic death of the "star-crossed lovers," the Capulets and the Montagues admit their complicity in the tragedy and at last end their feud.

Photo Collections

Romeo and Juliet (1936) - Lobby Card
Here is a lobby card from MGM's Romeo and Juliet (1936), starring Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Period
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 16, 1936
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 20 Aug 1936
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (London, ca. 1596, published 1597).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 5m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
14 reels

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1936
Norma Shearer

Best Art Direction

1936

Best Picture

1936

Best Supporting Actor

1936
Basil Rathbone

Articles

Romeo and Juliet (1936)


MGM pulled out all the stops for its lavish 1936 production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet directed by George Cukor and starring Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer as the famous star-crossed lovers. Bringing Romeo and Juliet to the screen was something MGM Production chief Irving Thalberg had wanted to do for a long time. Thalberg, known as MGM's "Boy Wonder", saw the project as an opportunity to bring added prestige to MGM with a first-rate production. It would also provide a showcase for his wife, actress Norma Shearer, known then as the "Queen of MGM". Although Shearer was in her mid-thirties at the time, Thalberg believed she could easily pull off the youthful, love struck Juliet. "I believe Norma can play anything and do it better than anyone else," he said. He intended Romeo and Juliet to be one of Shearer's final films, along with Marie Antoinette (1938), which was then in the planning stages at MGM. "Marie Antoinette and Juliet mark the end of Norma Shearer's acting career," announced Thalberg. "Too many stars stay on camera too long. I want her to bow out at her highest point."

While Irving Thalberg was enthusiastic about the project, studio head Louis B. Mayer had to be convinced. Eddie Mannix, Thalberg's assistant at the time, later said that Mayer "was ready to have an apoplectic fit when Irving sprang that one on him." Mayer didn't think a Shakespeare tragedy would be commercial or accessible enough for the movie-going masses. When Thalberg told Mayer that Warner Bros. was in the midst of filming an all-star version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream under director Max Reinhardt, Mayer replied, "If Jack (Warner) wants to make a fool of himself messing with Max Reinhardt and that Shakespeare high-falutin' stuff, that's his funeral! Why should we run Jack a race to bankruptcy court?" Eventually, however, Mayer relented and greenlit Romeo and Juliet.

Irving Thalberg handpicked George Cukor to direct Romeo and Juliet. Cukor, who was relatively new to Hollywood, had never directed any Shakespearean works. However, he had already established a reputation as a fine director at MGM with such films as Dinner at Eight (1933) and Little Women (1933). He looked forward to the challenge of tackling a Shakespeare film adaptation.

Norma Shearer was excited to play Juliet, but nervous at the same time. She was a talented Oscar®-winning actress, but she had no stage training and had never tackled a full-length Shakespeare production before. The only Shakespeare she had ever performed was the balcony scene opposite John Gilbert in The Hollywood Revue of 1929. Shearer committed herself to the role and worked diligently with acting coach Constance Collier, focusing especially on making the complex Shakespearean speeches sound as natural as possible.

Finding the right actor to play Romeo was one of the biggest challenges that faced Romeo and Juliet. MGM's first choice was Fredric March, but the actor felt he was too old for the part and refused. "I would have looked like a damn fool in tights climbing balconies and making pretty speeches," said March years later. "I was 38-years-old at the time! I would have totally lost my audiences bouncing around like a 16-year-old kid!" Clark Gable was next on the list, but he too refused. "I don't look Shakespeare. I don't talk Shakespeare. I don't like Shakespeare, and I won't do Shakespeare," he said. Laurence Olivier, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Donat and Brian Aherne were all considered for the part. Aherne and Norma Shearer went so far as to rehearse the balcony scene and film a screen test of it together. Like Fredric March, however, Aherne felt he was too old. "I thought (Norma) could probably bring off the part," he said several years later, "but there was no chance for me." Eventually Irving Thalberg convinced British actor Leslie Howard to play Romeo. Howard was in his forties at the time.

Irving Thalberg wanted John Barrymore to play the flamboyant supporting role of Mercutio. Barrymore was a legendary actor with a long and distinguished career, but in the 1930s his career was in rapid decline due to his severe alcoholism. His behavior was unpredictable, he had trouble memorizing lines, and he was known to show up to work drunk. He hadn't appeared in a film in two years and needed to work. Hiring him would be a major gamble for MGM. However, Barrymore was still considered one of the greatest living actors, and George Cukor had directed him successfully in two other films (A Bill of Divorcement [1932], Dinner at Eight). The studio agreed to take a chance on him. There was a condition, however; for the duration of the shoot, Barrymore would have to live at Kelley's Rest Home, a sanitarium near the studio, where he would be constantly monitored.

Rounding out the outstanding cast of Romeo and Juliet were Edna May Oliver as Juliet's nurse, Basil Rathbone as Tybalt and Reginald Denny as Benvolio.

Thalberg made sure that no expense was spared in the preparation of the Romeo and Juliet production and brought in top professionals to work on the film. Designer Oliver Messel was brought over from England to supervise the intricate sets and costumes. Thalberg sent Messel with a camera crew to Italy to photograph various architecture and art around Verona for inspiration. The resulting sets created at MGM were massive, taking up several acres and soundstages.

Cornell University English Professor William Strunk (author of the famous writing guide The Elements of Style) was brought on board as a literary advisor. Thalberg instructed him, "Your job is to protect Shakespeare from us!" Writer Talbot Jennings adapted Shakespeare's play, trimming roughly a quarter of the verse to accommodate a reasonable screen running time. Meanwhile, dancer Agnes de Mille was brought in from New York to choreograph the Capulet ball sequence.

Filming commenced on Romeo and Juliet in late 1935. Everything on the production went relatively smoothly with one exception - John Barrymore. Despite the strict conditions at the sanitarium, Barrymore still found ways to drink. He showed up late to the set drunk, blew his lines, clowned around and sometimes disappeared for days. "At fifty-four...John was too old for the role; he was very unsure of himself...and he was drinking and unreliable on the set," said co-star Basil Rathbone. "It was so sad to see him in such a state - the greatest Shakespearean stage actor of his time, who had forgotten more about acting than most people around him would ever know."

Barrymore's drinking got so bad that at one point MGM tried to replace him. Irving Thalberg asked actor William Powell to take over the role, but Powell refused. Barrymore had been good to him over the years, Powell said, and he didn't want to be disloyal to his friend. Norma Shearer personally intervened on Barrymore's behalf and convinced L.B. Mayer to keep him, reminding him what a great star Barrymore had once been and how much money he had made for the studio. Barrymore managed to get his act together enough to finish the film without further incident. Co-star Reginald Denny said, "(Barrymore) was a miracle at times like that. He somehow pulled himself together and was his old, great self, for as long as the camera held on him."

Romeo and Juliet was well-received by audiences and critics, though it ultimately fell short of the triumph that Thalberg had hoped for. It ended up costing 2 million dollars (a huge amount for the 1930s) and ultimately failed to make a substantial profit. The New York Times said, "Metro the Magnificent has loosed its technical magic upon Will Shakespeare and has fashioned for his Romeo and Juliet a jeweled setting in which the deep beauty of his romance glows and sparkles and gleams with breathless radiance. Never before, in all its centuries, has the play received so handsome a production...All that the camera's scope, superb photography and opulent costuming could give it has been given to it here. Ornate, but not garish, extravagant but in perfect taste, expansive but never overwhelming, the picture reflects great credit upon its producers and upon the screen as a whole. It is a dignified, sensitive and entirely admirable Shakespearean-not Hollywoodean-production." The Hollywood Reporter raved, "...everything about the production will make you proud to be a movie fan. There isn't anyone we can think of who will not love it, who will not wonder why Shakespeare has been so long neglected or viewed with such pedantic awe."

Romeo and Juliet received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. It was the last film that Irving Thalberg personally oversaw through its entire production at MGM. Thalberg, who suffered from heart problems and had been in poor health his entire life, died on September 14, 1936 at the age of 37.

Looking back years later, Norma Shearer felt proud of her work in Romeo and Juliet. "It was my last (film) with Irving and he put so much of himself into it; he so wanted it to succeed," she said. "And I feel I did expand my range, and I had the benefit of some good coaching that stood me in good stead for the future, and the cast surrounding me would have been an asset to any actress!"

Director George Cukor could only think of things he would have changed about Romeo and Juliet when asked about the film later on. "I wish I had given it more of an Italian flavor," he said. "I wanted to catch the period, scale it down, make it a little more intimate. When I see it now I see so many things I would have changed. But Norma and Leslie and John Barrymore were wonderful-couldn't be improved on...But in 1936 we were all caught up in production gloss, giving a film a big, stately look...So I guess I got caught up in all that and the picture suffered a bit-maybe more than a bit." In an interview during the 1970s Cukor added, "...It was unfamiliar territory for me, I suppose. It's one picture that if I had to do over again, I'd know how. I'd get the garlic and the Mediterranean into it. And then there was a tug of war about the way the picture should look. On one side there was (costume designer) Adrian and the resident MGM art director, Cedric Gibbons. On the other there was Oliver Messel. Irving Thalberg sat like Solomon and never committed himself. I wanted to go with Oliver, but I didn't succeed in breaking the barrier. The result is what you see, neither one thing nor the other. It's original at moments - like the ball scene with Agnes de Mille's choreography - and conventional at others."

Director: George Cukor
Producer: Irving Thalberg
Screenplay: Talbot Jennings (based on the play by William Shakespeare)
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editing: Margaret Booth
Music: Herbert Stothart
Cast: Norma Shearer (Juliet), Leslie Howard (Romeo), John Barrymore (Mercutio), Edna May Oliver (Juliet's Nurse), Basil Rathbone (Tybalt), C. Aubrey Smith (Lord Capulet), Andy Devine (Peter), Conway Tearle (Escalus), Ralph Forbes (Paris).
BW-125m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Andrea Passafiume
Romeo And Juliet (1936)

Romeo and Juliet (1936)

MGM pulled out all the stops for its lavish 1936 production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet directed by George Cukor and starring Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer as the famous star-crossed lovers. Bringing Romeo and Juliet to the screen was something MGM Production chief Irving Thalberg had wanted to do for a long time. Thalberg, known as MGM's "Boy Wonder", saw the project as an opportunity to bring added prestige to MGM with a first-rate production. It would also provide a showcase for his wife, actress Norma Shearer, known then as the "Queen of MGM". Although Shearer was in her mid-thirties at the time, Thalberg believed she could easily pull off the youthful, love struck Juliet. "I believe Norma can play anything and do it better than anyone else," he said. He intended Romeo and Juliet to be one of Shearer's final films, along with Marie Antoinette (1938), which was then in the planning stages at MGM. "Marie Antoinette and Juliet mark the end of Norma Shearer's acting career," announced Thalberg. "Too many stars stay on camera too long. I want her to bow out at her highest point." While Irving Thalberg was enthusiastic about the project, studio head Louis B. Mayer had to be convinced. Eddie Mannix, Thalberg's assistant at the time, later said that Mayer "was ready to have an apoplectic fit when Irving sprang that one on him." Mayer didn't think a Shakespeare tragedy would be commercial or accessible enough for the movie-going masses. When Thalberg told Mayer that Warner Bros. was in the midst of filming an all-star version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream under director Max Reinhardt, Mayer replied, "If Jack (Warner) wants to make a fool of himself messing with Max Reinhardt and that Shakespeare high-falutin' stuff, that's his funeral! Why should we run Jack a race to bankruptcy court?" Eventually, however, Mayer relented and greenlit Romeo and Juliet. Irving Thalberg handpicked George Cukor to direct Romeo and Juliet. Cukor, who was relatively new to Hollywood, had never directed any Shakespearean works. However, he had already established a reputation as a fine director at MGM with such films as Dinner at Eight (1933) and Little Women (1933). He looked forward to the challenge of tackling a Shakespeare film adaptation. Norma Shearer was excited to play Juliet, but nervous at the same time. She was a talented Oscar®-winning actress, but she had no stage training and had never tackled a full-length Shakespeare production before. The only Shakespeare she had ever performed was the balcony scene opposite John Gilbert in The Hollywood Revue of 1929. Shearer committed herself to the role and worked diligently with acting coach Constance Collier, focusing especially on making the complex Shakespearean speeches sound as natural as possible. Finding the right actor to play Romeo was one of the biggest challenges that faced Romeo and Juliet. MGM's first choice was Fredric March, but the actor felt he was too old for the part and refused. "I would have looked like a damn fool in tights climbing balconies and making pretty speeches," said March years later. "I was 38-years-old at the time! I would have totally lost my audiences bouncing around like a 16-year-old kid!" Clark Gable was next on the list, but he too refused. "I don't look Shakespeare. I don't talk Shakespeare. I don't like Shakespeare, and I won't do Shakespeare," he said. Laurence Olivier, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Donat and Brian Aherne were all considered for the part. Aherne and Norma Shearer went so far as to rehearse the balcony scene and film a screen test of it together. Like Fredric March, however, Aherne felt he was too old. "I thought (Norma) could probably bring off the part," he said several years later, "but there was no chance for me." Eventually Irving Thalberg convinced British actor Leslie Howard to play Romeo. Howard was in his forties at the time. Irving Thalberg wanted John Barrymore to play the flamboyant supporting role of Mercutio. Barrymore was a legendary actor with a long and distinguished career, but in the 1930s his career was in rapid decline due to his severe alcoholism. His behavior was unpredictable, he had trouble memorizing lines, and he was known to show up to work drunk. He hadn't appeared in a film in two years and needed to work. Hiring him would be a major gamble for MGM. However, Barrymore was still considered one of the greatest living actors, and George Cukor had directed him successfully in two other films (A Bill of Divorcement [1932], Dinner at Eight). The studio agreed to take a chance on him. There was a condition, however; for the duration of the shoot, Barrymore would have to live at Kelley's Rest Home, a sanitarium near the studio, where he would be constantly monitored. Rounding out the outstanding cast of Romeo and Juliet were Edna May Oliver as Juliet's nurse, Basil Rathbone as Tybalt and Reginald Denny as Benvolio. Thalberg made sure that no expense was spared in the preparation of the Romeo and Juliet production and brought in top professionals to work on the film. Designer Oliver Messel was brought over from England to supervise the intricate sets and costumes. Thalberg sent Messel with a camera crew to Italy to photograph various architecture and art around Verona for inspiration. The resulting sets created at MGM were massive, taking up several acres and soundstages. Cornell University English Professor William Strunk (author of the famous writing guide The Elements of Style) was brought on board as a literary advisor. Thalberg instructed him, "Your job is to protect Shakespeare from us!" Writer Talbot Jennings adapted Shakespeare's play, trimming roughly a quarter of the verse to accommodate a reasonable screen running time. Meanwhile, dancer Agnes de Mille was brought in from New York to choreograph the Capulet ball sequence. Filming commenced on Romeo and Juliet in late 1935. Everything on the production went relatively smoothly with one exception - John Barrymore. Despite the strict conditions at the sanitarium, Barrymore still found ways to drink. He showed up late to the set drunk, blew his lines, clowned around and sometimes disappeared for days. "At fifty-four...John was too old for the role; he was very unsure of himself...and he was drinking and unreliable on the set," said co-star Basil Rathbone. "It was so sad to see him in such a state - the greatest Shakespearean stage actor of his time, who had forgotten more about acting than most people around him would ever know." Barrymore's drinking got so bad that at one point MGM tried to replace him. Irving Thalberg asked actor William Powell to take over the role, but Powell refused. Barrymore had been good to him over the years, Powell said, and he didn't want to be disloyal to his friend. Norma Shearer personally intervened on Barrymore's behalf and convinced L.B. Mayer to keep him, reminding him what a great star Barrymore had once been and how much money he had made for the studio. Barrymore managed to get his act together enough to finish the film without further incident. Co-star Reginald Denny said, "(Barrymore) was a miracle at times like that. He somehow pulled himself together and was his old, great self, for as long as the camera held on him." Romeo and Juliet was well-received by audiences and critics, though it ultimately fell short of the triumph that Thalberg had hoped for. It ended up costing 2 million dollars (a huge amount for the 1930s) and ultimately failed to make a substantial profit. The New York Times said, "Metro the Magnificent has loosed its technical magic upon Will Shakespeare and has fashioned for his Romeo and Juliet a jeweled setting in which the deep beauty of his romance glows and sparkles and gleams with breathless radiance. Never before, in all its centuries, has the play received so handsome a production...All that the camera's scope, superb photography and opulent costuming could give it has been given to it here. Ornate, but not garish, extravagant but in perfect taste, expansive but never overwhelming, the picture reflects great credit upon its producers and upon the screen as a whole. It is a dignified, sensitive and entirely admirable Shakespearean-not Hollywoodean-production." The Hollywood Reporter raved, "...everything about the production will make you proud to be a movie fan. There isn't anyone we can think of who will not love it, who will not wonder why Shakespeare has been so long neglected or viewed with such pedantic awe." Romeo and Juliet received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. It was the last film that Irving Thalberg personally oversaw through its entire production at MGM. Thalberg, who suffered from heart problems and had been in poor health his entire life, died on September 14, 1936 at the age of 37. Looking back years later, Norma Shearer felt proud of her work in Romeo and Juliet. "It was my last (film) with Irving and he put so much of himself into it; he so wanted it to succeed," she said. "And I feel I did expand my range, and I had the benefit of some good coaching that stood me in good stead for the future, and the cast surrounding me would have been an asset to any actress!" Director George Cukor could only think of things he would have changed about Romeo and Juliet when asked about the film later on. "I wish I had given it more of an Italian flavor," he said. "I wanted to catch the period, scale it down, make it a little more intimate. When I see it now I see so many things I would have changed. But Norma and Leslie and John Barrymore were wonderful-couldn't be improved on...But in 1936 we were all caught up in production gloss, giving a film a big, stately look...So I guess I got caught up in all that and the picture suffered a bit-maybe more than a bit." In an interview during the 1970s Cukor added, "...It was unfamiliar territory for me, I suppose. It's one picture that if I had to do over again, I'd know how. I'd get the garlic and the Mediterranean into it. And then there was a tug of war about the way the picture should look. On one side there was (costume designer) Adrian and the resident MGM art director, Cedric Gibbons. On the other there was Oliver Messel. Irving Thalberg sat like Solomon and never committed himself. I wanted to go with Oliver, but I didn't succeed in breaking the barrier. The result is what you see, neither one thing nor the other. It's original at moments - like the ball scene with Agnes de Mille's choreography - and conventional at others." Director: George Cukor Producer: Irving Thalberg Screenplay: Talbot Jennings (based on the play by William Shakespeare) Cinematography: William H. Daniels Editing: Margaret Booth Music: Herbert Stothart Cast: Norma Shearer (Juliet), Leslie Howard (Romeo), John Barrymore (Mercutio), Edna May Oliver (Juliet's Nurse), Basil Rathbone (Tybalt), C. Aubrey Smith (Lord Capulet), Andy Devine (Peter), Conway Tearle (Escalus), Ralph Forbes (Paris). BW-125m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Andrea Passafiume

Romeo and Juliet (1936)


Leslie Howard was 43 and Norma Shearer was 34 when they played the tragic title characters in George Cukor's movie version of William Shakespeare's ever-popular Romeo and Juliet, released in 1936. As usual with this play, the stars exceeded the ages of their characters by an amusingly wide margin: Juliet is 13, according to her Nurse, and while Romeo's age is never specified, the main source Shakespeare used for the story - the 1562 play Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke - says that on his "tender chin, as yet, no manlike beard there grew," which makes him pretty young as well. Following a long tradition, Howard and Shearer deal with this discrepancy by ignoring it, relying on charisma rather than veracity to bring the "star-cross'd lovers" alive. They pull it off like the experts they are, and Shearer earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

The film got an Oscar® nomination for Best Picture, and chief credit for this goes to Cukor for his down-to-earth directing. No one in the traditional canon of American auteurs was more fond of screenwriters than Cukor, who regarded dialogue as a driving force no less important than acting and visual style; when I interviewed him in 1979, he said screenwriters are the real "authors" of a film and the director is basically a "kibitzer." Accordingly, he worked with some of the best, Shakespeare included. Romeo and Juliet was one of two pictures Cukor completed in 1936. The play was "arranged for the screen" by Talbot Jennings, who trimmed it to about 120 minutes' running time, keeping a little less than half of the original text; this works nicely for Romeo and Juliet, where the Prologue famously refers to "the two hours' traffic of our stage." The result is Shakespeare à la Hollywood in the classic studio manner, full of famous MGM faces and tasteful to a fault.

For those who haven't brushed up their Shakespeare lately, here's a quick refresher on the play. The setting is Verona, where the Montague and Capulet families are embroiled in a vicious feud. When a fight breaks out involving Benvolio (Reginald Denny) of the Montagues and Tybalt (Basil Rathbone) of the Capulets, the angry Prince Escalus (Conway Tearle) proclaims that any further violence will bring a harsh penalty to the offenders. Romance is also in the air: Romeo (Howard) adores Rosaline (Katherine DeMille), who doesn't return his affection, and Juliet (Shearer) is thinking about marrying Paris (Ralph Forbes), an excellent catch who happens to be her parents' first choice. Romeo sneaks into a Capulet party in disguise, hoping he'll run into Rosaline there. Instead he sees Juliet, and she sees Romeo, and kaboom! it's love at first sight.

Soon thereafter they secretly get married, helped by Juliet's faithful Nurse (Edna May Oliver) and Romeo's friend Friar Laurence (Henry Kolker), who thinks matrimony might end the family feud; but then Romeo kills Tybalt in a new eruption of violence. The Prince banishes Romeo as punishment, just as Juliet's parents (unaware of her secret marriage) decide she must wed Paris immediately. The future looks bleak for the lovers, but Friar Laurence comes up with a rather complicated solution calling for Juliet to take a potion that will make her appear to die, whereupon Romeo will whisk her out of the family tomb and escape to Mantua, where they can live happily ever after. Instead everything goes wrong and everyone ends up dead or miserable. "For never was a story of more woe," the Prince accurately remarks in the play's last lines, "Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

MGM decided to tackle Romeo and Juliet after Warner Bros. made a splash with A Midsummer Night's Dream, a 1935 release directed by theater virtuoso Max Reinhardt and featuring an all-star cast. Shearer's husband, MGM production chief Irving Thalberg, was the (uncredited) producer who gave Romeo and Juliet a budget of more than two million dollars and sent a team of designers to Verona in search of maximum authenticity. Not surprisingly, the picture starts with signifiers of its high-culture credentials - a painted Renaissance curtain, a Shakespeare medallion, opening titles on unfurling scrolls, and so on.

With this out of the way, Cukor makes every effort to keep the story clear for moviegoers with rusty Shakespeare skills. Each significant figure in the tale is introduced at the beginning by character name and actor name as well as a brief description and on-screen portrait. The performances are plainspoken and direct; the dialogue is never rushed or mumbled; and the visuals parallel the text in crisp, logical ways that complement Shakespeare's verse instead of competing with it. MGM's literary consultant for the film was Professor William Strunk, Jr., whose 1918 book The Elements of Style influences usage of the English language to this day, and true to his ideas, the movie refuses to get stuck in purist ruts, always making clarity and transparency its top priorities. The music takes a similar route, mixing lyrical excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet ballet with Herbert Stothart's original score.

Howard and Shearer are fully in sync with Cukor's approach, generally not overplaying their parts or waxing overly poetic with their speeches, which they treat as serious movie dialogue that just happens to be blank verse. The supporting cast follows suit, enhancing the movie's entertainment value with touches of old-fashioned Hollywood corn. John Barrymore gives Romeo's friend Mercutio a blend of droll energy and campy charm; the inimitable Oliver makes the Nurse both prissy and likable; and gravel-voiced Andy Devine makes a big impression in the little role of Peter, a servant of the Capulet clan. Rathbone, lean and mean as Tybalt, deserved his supporting-actor Oscar® nomination. A nomination also went to Edwin B. Willis, Fredric Hope, and trusty Cedric Gibbons for the unfussy art direction, which calls attention to itself only at key moments, as when beautiful, white-robed Juliet lies unconscious in the dismal burial vault.

Romeo and Juliet has been filmed more frequently than any other play ever written, according to some authorities, starting with a French silent movie in 1900 and continuing with such well-known versions as Franco Zeffirelli's hugely popular 1968 picture (with a 17-year-old and 15-year-old playing Romeo and Juliet, respectively) and Baz Luhrmann's hyperactive Romeo + Juliet (1996), with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the lovers. (A new adaptation written by Julian Fellowes, with Damian Lewis and Hailee Steinfeld as the lovers and Stellan Skarsgård and Paul Giamatti in secondary roles, is due in 2013.) Cukor's picture did poorly with audiences and critics in 1936, souring Hollywood on Shakespeare until Zeffirelli's box-office bonanza turned things around in 1968. It isn't likely that the Cukor edition will replace the Zeffirelli or Luhrmann versions in the hearts of younger viewers, and Cukor himself wasn't crazy about his film in retrospect: if he had a do-over, he said years later, he would "get the garlic and the Mediterranean into it." His movie is an important entry in the annals of Shakespearean cinema, though, and the story it tells is as touching as ever, even when the star-cross'd adolescents are played by unmistakably grownup Hollywood stars.

Director: George Cukor
Screenplay: William Shakespeare; arranged for the screen by Talbot Jennings
Cinematographer: William Daniels
Film Editing: Margaret Booth
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Settings: Cedric Gibbons and Oliver Messel; associates: Fredric Hope and Edwin B. Willis
Dance Direction: Agnes de Mille Music: Herbert Stothart
With: Norma Shearer (Juliet, daughter to Capulet), Leslie Howard (Romeo, son to Montague), John Barrymore (Mercutio, kinsman to the prince and friend to Romeo), Edna May Oliver (Nurse to Juliet), Basil Rathbone (Tybalt, nephew to Lady Capulet), C. Aubrey Smith (Capulet), Andy Devine (Peter, servant to Juliet's nurse), Conway Tearle (Escalus, Prince of Verona), Ralph Forbes (Paris, young nobleman kinsman to the prince), Henry Kolker (Friar Laurence), Robert Warwick (Montague), Virginia Hammond (Lady Montague, wife to Montague), Reginald Denny (Benvolio, nephew to Montague and friend to Romeo), Violet Kemble Cooper (Lady Capulet, wife to Capulet).
BW-125m.

by David Sterritt

Romeo and Juliet (1936)

Leslie Howard was 43 and Norma Shearer was 34 when they played the tragic title characters in George Cukor's movie version of William Shakespeare's ever-popular Romeo and Juliet, released in 1936. As usual with this play, the stars exceeded the ages of their characters by an amusingly wide margin: Juliet is 13, according to her Nurse, and while Romeo's age is never specified, the main source Shakespeare used for the story - the 1562 play Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke - says that on his "tender chin, as yet, no manlike beard there grew," which makes him pretty young as well. Following a long tradition, Howard and Shearer deal with this discrepancy by ignoring it, relying on charisma rather than veracity to bring the "star-cross'd lovers" alive. They pull it off like the experts they are, and Shearer earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The film got an Oscar® nomination for Best Picture, and chief credit for this goes to Cukor for his down-to-earth directing. No one in the traditional canon of American auteurs was more fond of screenwriters than Cukor, who regarded dialogue as a driving force no less important than acting and visual style; when I interviewed him in 1979, he said screenwriters are the real "authors" of a film and the director is basically a "kibitzer." Accordingly, he worked with some of the best, Shakespeare included. Romeo and Juliet was one of two pictures Cukor completed in 1936. The play was "arranged for the screen" by Talbot Jennings, who trimmed it to about 120 minutes' running time, keeping a little less than half of the original text; this works nicely for Romeo and Juliet, where the Prologue famously refers to "the two hours' traffic of our stage." The result is Shakespeare à la Hollywood in the classic studio manner, full of famous MGM faces and tasteful to a fault. For those who haven't brushed up their Shakespeare lately, here's a quick refresher on the play. The setting is Verona, where the Montague and Capulet families are embroiled in a vicious feud. When a fight breaks out involving Benvolio (Reginald Denny) of the Montagues and Tybalt (Basil Rathbone) of the Capulets, the angry Prince Escalus (Conway Tearle) proclaims that any further violence will bring a harsh penalty to the offenders. Romance is also in the air: Romeo (Howard) adores Rosaline (Katherine DeMille), who doesn't return his affection, and Juliet (Shearer) is thinking about marrying Paris (Ralph Forbes), an excellent catch who happens to be her parents' first choice. Romeo sneaks into a Capulet party in disguise, hoping he'll run into Rosaline there. Instead he sees Juliet, and she sees Romeo, and kaboom! it's love at first sight. Soon thereafter they secretly get married, helped by Juliet's faithful Nurse (Edna May Oliver) and Romeo's friend Friar Laurence (Henry Kolker), who thinks matrimony might end the family feud; but then Romeo kills Tybalt in a new eruption of violence. The Prince banishes Romeo as punishment, just as Juliet's parents (unaware of her secret marriage) decide she must wed Paris immediately. The future looks bleak for the lovers, but Friar Laurence comes up with a rather complicated solution calling for Juliet to take a potion that will make her appear to die, whereupon Romeo will whisk her out of the family tomb and escape to Mantua, where they can live happily ever after. Instead everything goes wrong and everyone ends up dead or miserable. "For never was a story of more woe," the Prince accurately remarks in the play's last lines, "Than this of Juliet and her Romeo." MGM decided to tackle Romeo and Juliet after Warner Bros. made a splash with A Midsummer Night's Dream, a 1935 release directed by theater virtuoso Max Reinhardt and featuring an all-star cast. Shearer's husband, MGM production chief Irving Thalberg, was the (uncredited) producer who gave Romeo and Juliet a budget of more than two million dollars and sent a team of designers to Verona in search of maximum authenticity. Not surprisingly, the picture starts with signifiers of its high-culture credentials - a painted Renaissance curtain, a Shakespeare medallion, opening titles on unfurling scrolls, and so on. With this out of the way, Cukor makes every effort to keep the story clear for moviegoers with rusty Shakespeare skills. Each significant figure in the tale is introduced at the beginning by character name and actor name as well as a brief description and on-screen portrait. The performances are plainspoken and direct; the dialogue is never rushed or mumbled; and the visuals parallel the text in crisp, logical ways that complement Shakespeare's verse instead of competing with it. MGM's literary consultant for the film was Professor William Strunk, Jr., whose 1918 book The Elements of Style influences usage of the English language to this day, and true to his ideas, the movie refuses to get stuck in purist ruts, always making clarity and transparency its top priorities. The music takes a similar route, mixing lyrical excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet ballet with Herbert Stothart's original score. Howard and Shearer are fully in sync with Cukor's approach, generally not overplaying their parts or waxing overly poetic with their speeches, which they treat as serious movie dialogue that just happens to be blank verse. The supporting cast follows suit, enhancing the movie's entertainment value with touches of old-fashioned Hollywood corn. John Barrymore gives Romeo's friend Mercutio a blend of droll energy and campy charm; the inimitable Oliver makes the Nurse both prissy and likable; and gravel-voiced Andy Devine makes a big impression in the little role of Peter, a servant of the Capulet clan. Rathbone, lean and mean as Tybalt, deserved his supporting-actor Oscar® nomination. A nomination also went to Edwin B. Willis, Fredric Hope, and trusty Cedric Gibbons for the unfussy art direction, which calls attention to itself only at key moments, as when beautiful, white-robed Juliet lies unconscious in the dismal burial vault. Romeo and Juliet has been filmed more frequently than any other play ever written, according to some authorities, starting with a French silent movie in 1900 and continuing with such well-known versions as Franco Zeffirelli's hugely popular 1968 picture (with a 17-year-old and 15-year-old playing Romeo and Juliet, respectively) and Baz Luhrmann's hyperactive Romeo + Juliet (1996), with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the lovers. (A new adaptation written by Julian Fellowes, with Damian Lewis and Hailee Steinfeld as the lovers and Stellan Skarsgård and Paul Giamatti in secondary roles, is due in 2013.) Cukor's picture did poorly with audiences and critics in 1936, souring Hollywood on Shakespeare until Zeffirelli's box-office bonanza turned things around in 1968. It isn't likely that the Cukor edition will replace the Zeffirelli or Luhrmann versions in the hearts of younger viewers, and Cukor himself wasn't crazy about his film in retrospect: if he had a do-over, he said years later, he would "get the garlic and the Mediterranean into it." His movie is an important entry in the annals of Shakespearean cinema, though, and the story it tells is as touching as ever, even when the star-cross'd adolescents are played by unmistakably grownup Hollywood stars. Director: George Cukor Screenplay: William Shakespeare; arranged for the screen by Talbot Jennings Cinematographer: William Daniels Film Editing: Margaret Booth Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Settings: Cedric Gibbons and Oliver Messel; associates: Fredric Hope and Edwin B. Willis Dance Direction: Agnes de Mille Music: Herbert Stothart With: Norma Shearer (Juliet, daughter to Capulet), Leslie Howard (Romeo, son to Montague), John Barrymore (Mercutio, kinsman to the prince and friend to Romeo), Edna May Oliver (Nurse to Juliet), Basil Rathbone (Tybalt, nephew to Lady Capulet), C. Aubrey Smith (Capulet), Andy Devine (Peter, servant to Juliet's nurse), Conway Tearle (Escalus, Prince of Verona), Ralph Forbes (Paris, young nobleman kinsman to the prince), Henry Kolker (Friar Laurence), Robert Warwick (Montague), Virginia Hammond (Lady Montague, wife to Montague), Reginald Denny (Benvolio, nephew to Montague and friend to Romeo), Violet Kemble Cooper (Lady Capulet, wife to Capulet). BW-125m. by David Sterritt

Romeo and Juliet (1936)


It is rare for a film's art direction to drive its publicity. But a syndicated headline appeared in papers across the country on March 7, 1936 that read, "Balcony Scene Will Be Gorgeous in Romeo and Juliet." While the article praised the beauty of the design, it paid most attention to the scope of the MGM's new film.

Romeo and Juliet (1936) was shot on the world's largest sound stage at that time. The Capulet castle and garden from the famed balcony scene covered 52,000 square feet. Though art director Cedric Gibbons objected, director George Cukor brought in Oliver Messel from England as a design consultant for the elaborate sets and costumes.

Gibbons, head of the MGM art department for over thirty years, is another Hollywood rarity - an art director whose name the public recognized. As MGM's Supervising Art Director, Gibbons accumulated 1500 screen credits over his career. In fact, when the studio was formed in 1924, Gibbons already had a decade of art direction behind him. Gibbon's name appears on projects that range from Greed (1924) and A Night at the Opera (1935) to The Wizard of Oz (1939) and An American in Paris (1951). Some question Gibbon's actual hands-on involvement in the design process. He did, as stipulated by his contract, receive design credit for almost every film produced at MGM during his time there (an impossible 70 plus films a year). Others point out Gibbon's total control over design decisions, personnel and overall vision that colored every film whether he ever picked up a pen or not.

Regardless, Cedric Gibbon's legacy in Hollywood cannot be overlooked. Married to actress Dolores Del Rio, Gibbons was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He even designed the Oscar statue, which he won 11 times. He was nominated a total of 39 times, including his shared Oscar® nomination for Best Art Direction on Romeo and Juliet.

Director: George Cukor
Producer: Irving Thalberg
Screenplay: Talbot Jennings (based on the play by William Shakespeare)
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editing: Margaret Booth
Music: Herbert Stothart
Cast: Norma Shearer (Juliet), Leslie Howard (Romeo), John Barrymore (Mercutio), Edna May Oliver (Juliet's Nurse), Basil Rathbone (Tybalt), C. Aubrey Smith (Lord Capulet), Andy Devine (Peter), Conway Tearle (Escalus), Ralph Forbes (Paris).
BW-125m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Stephanie Thames

Romeo and Juliet (1936)

It is rare for a film's art direction to drive its publicity. But a syndicated headline appeared in papers across the country on March 7, 1936 that read, "Balcony Scene Will Be Gorgeous in Romeo and Juliet." While the article praised the beauty of the design, it paid most attention to the scope of the MGM's new film. Romeo and Juliet (1936) was shot on the world's largest sound stage at that time. The Capulet castle and garden from the famed balcony scene covered 52,000 square feet. Though art director Cedric Gibbons objected, director George Cukor brought in Oliver Messel from England as a design consultant for the elaborate sets and costumes. Gibbons, head of the MGM art department for over thirty years, is another Hollywood rarity - an art director whose name the public recognized. As MGM's Supervising Art Director, Gibbons accumulated 1500 screen credits over his career. In fact, when the studio was formed in 1924, Gibbons already had a decade of art direction behind him. Gibbon's name appears on projects that range from Greed (1924) and A Night at the Opera (1935) to The Wizard of Oz (1939) and An American in Paris (1951). Some question Gibbon's actual hands-on involvement in the design process. He did, as stipulated by his contract, receive design credit for almost every film produced at MGM during his time there (an impossible 70 plus films a year). Others point out Gibbon's total control over design decisions, personnel and overall vision that colored every film whether he ever picked up a pen or not. Regardless, Cedric Gibbon's legacy in Hollywood cannot be overlooked. Married to actress Dolores Del Rio, Gibbons was a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He even designed the Oscar statue, which he won 11 times. He was nominated a total of 39 times, including his shared Oscar® nomination for Best Art Direction on Romeo and Juliet. Director: George Cukor Producer: Irving Thalberg Screenplay: Talbot Jennings (based on the play by William Shakespeare) Cinematography: William H. Daniels Editing: Margaret Booth Music: Herbert Stothart Cast: Norma Shearer (Juliet), Leslie Howard (Romeo), John Barrymore (Mercutio), Edna May Oliver (Juliet's Nurse), Basil Rathbone (Tybalt), C. Aubrey Smith (Lord Capulet), Andy Devine (Peter), Conway Tearle (Escalus), Ralph Forbes (Paris). BW-125m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Stephanie Thames

Quotes

Trivia

This was the last film producer Irving Thalberg personally produced before his death in September, 1936.

The film's literary consultant was Professor William Strunk Jr., co-author of the famous treatise on the English language, Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style".

Notes

According to a Daily Variety pre-release news item, the August 1936 world premiere of this picture in New York was to be followed by a prestigious opening in Stratford-on-Avon, England. A November 1935 Daily Variety news item notes that production on the picture was held up due to casting difficulties for the part of "Romeo." The article notes that "practically all available players in Hollywood have been tested" for the part, though none were acceptable to producer Irving Thalberg. Contemporary news items and modern sources indicate that actors Robert Montgomery, Brian Aherne, Clark Gable, Robert Donat, Laurence Olivier, Franchot Tone and Robert Taylor were among those considered for the part of "Romeo." A Hollywood Reporter pre-release news item notes that at one point, Robert Taylor had been named as the studio's second choice for the lead in the event that its deal with Warner Bros., in which Montgomery and other unnamed M-G-M actors were "traded" for Warner Bros. stars Paul Muni and Leslie Howard, fell through. News items also note that Maurice Murphy replaced William Henry as "Balthasar," and Henry Daniell, who was originally set for the part of "Paris," was given the part of "Benvolio" and was then replaced by Reginald Denny.
       According to Hollywood Reporter, M-G-M planned to shoot the entire picture twice to "ensure that they got the most out of the production." The two-part filming, which was said to be the first time that a studio employed such a technique, involved the shooting of the players' rehearsals against a black backdrop in addition to the conventional filming.
       Hollywood Reporter and New York Times news items noted that John Mansfield and Cyril Hume took writing assignments on the film, and that conductor Wilhelm von Wymetal was assigned to "handle the operatic sequence," but their contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter production charts and pre-release news items list actors John Bryan, Jeanne Hart, Rodney Bell, Adrian Rosley, Vernon Downing, Gertrude Astor, Dorothy Granger, Anthony Marsh, Madeline Talcott, Howard Wilson, Charles Albin and Francis X. Bushman, Jr. in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Francis X. Bushman, Jr. (also known as Ralph Bushman) was the son of actor Francis X. Bushman, who played "Romeo" in Metro Pictures Corp.'s 1916 version of Romeo and Juliet. John Bryan, a professional Shakespearean actor, was originally announced for the part of "Friar John," and Anthony Marsh, an "amateur" player, was announced for the bit role of "Mecutio's page." Hollywood Reporter also notes that Dr. W. W. Dearborn, a chiropractor who received his first bit role in The Great Ziegfeld, was set for a speaking part in the film. According to a Motion Picture Herald news item, M-G-M's research department spent two years gathering background material for the film, which included the dispatching of a technical crew to photograph parts of Verona, Italy. A New York Times article indicates that M-G-M reconstructed Verona's Church of San Zeno on eight acres of the studio's backlot, and that three replicas of "Juliet's" famous balcony were built so that the cameramen could get all the camera angles they wanted without having to use a crane. A Hollywood Reporter pre-release news item notes that Leslie Howard was advised by a doctor to take a convalescent cruise following the completetion of his work on the film. Howard was absent from the set twice during production, once when he fell ill, and again after he was injured while filming a duel scene. A New York Times article notes that "casting wizard" William Grady was responsible for the casting of 2,000 extras, 900 of whom had appeared in previous Shakespeare productions. The New York Times article also indicates that James Vincent, stage actress Katherine Cornell's stage manager, was "engaged in an advisory capacity." According to an unidentified source in the AMPAS production file for the 1932 M-G-M film Blondie of the Follies, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst banned Norma Shearer's name from his newspapers because he thought that Marion Davies, his longtime friend and protegée, should have beat out Shearer (Thalberg's wife) for the part of Juliet. A biography of director George Cukor notes that art director Cedric Gibbons often feuded with his collaborator, Oliver Messel. Messel and Gibbons, according to Hollywood Reporter, were embroiled in a "great credit battle" over the designs for the film until Thalberg designated Gibbons as the official "designer of sets" and put Messel in charge of the costumes with Adrian.
       The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains a letter sent from PCA official Joseph I. Breen to Irving Thalberg, dated December 20, 1935, in which Breen, after viewing some of the early footage of the film, told Thalberg that "the present manner of playing this bedroom scene is highly inadvisable. In the first place, it seems to us that any attempt to inject anything approaching a 'hot' bedroom scene into a Shakespeare classic would be a serious mistake." Breen suggested that Thalberg "omit all the action of them [Romeo and Juliet] lying on the bed, fondling one another in a horizontal position, and pulling one another down." The PCA files also note that censors in Spain deleted the following dialogue from the film: Juliet: "Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day. It was a nightingale, and not a lark that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear. Nightly she sings on yon pomegrante tree. Believe me, love, it was the nightingale." Romeo: "It was the lark, the herald of the morn, no nightingale. Look." In addition, censors in Japan deleted a number of kissing scenes; censors in Alberta ordered the shortening of the stabbing in "Juliet's" death scene; and censors in Java deleted all of "Juliet's" suicide scene. Romeo and Juliet was rejected in its entirety by the German censors.
       Many films and televised programs have been based on or inspired by Shakespeare's play, including: the 1916 Fox film Romeo and Juliet, directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Theda Bara and Harry Hilliard; Metro Pictures Corp.'s 1916 film Romeo and Juliet, directed by John W. Noble and starring Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3772 and F1.3773); West Side Story, a 1961 United Artists film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins and starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer; the 1964 Italian-Spanish co-production, Guiletta e Romeo, directed by Riccardo Freda and starring Gerald Meynier and Rosemarie Dexter; the 1968 Italian-British co-production, Romeo and Juliet, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6. 5499, F6.4150 and F6.4150a); the Bolshoi Ballet's production of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, which starred Mikhail Lavrovsk and Natalia Bessmertnova and aired on the CBS television network on June 27, 1976; and the BBC-produced Romeo and Juliet teleplay, directed by Alvin Rakoff and starring Patrick Ryecart and Rebecca Saire, which aired on the PBS network on March 14, 1979. The 1929 M-G-M musical revue entitled The Hollywood Revue of 1929 featured Norma Shearer and John Gilbert performing a Technicolor skit in which they acted out the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.2553). Romeo and Juliet was named as one of the ten best pictures of 1937 by the Film Daily nationwide film critics poll, and received Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Best Picture; Best Actress (Norma Shearer); Best Supporting Actor (Basil Rathbone); and Best Interior Decoration.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1936

Released in United States 1936