Macbeth

Macbeth

5.0 1

Cast: Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy, Roddy McDowall

     
 

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Shakespeare's tragic tale of the rise and fall of ambitious 12th-century Scottish warrior MacBeth has proven irresistible to filmmakers. Orson Welles was so anxious to transfer the play to the screen that he acceded to the demands of his parent studio, Republic pictures, that he shoot his version of MacBeth in 23 days on standing B-western sets. The result maySee more details below

Overview

Shakespeare's tragic tale of the rise and fall of ambitious 12th-century Scottish warrior MacBeth has proven irresistible to filmmakers. Orson Welles was so anxious to transfer the play to the screen that he acceded to the demands of his parent studio, Republic pictures, that he shoot his version of MacBeth in 23 days on standing B-western sets. The result may not be the best-ever cinematic MacBeth, but it's certainly one of the most moody and atmospheric. Director Welles naturally casts star Welles in the title role, with his old radio colleague Jeanette Nolan as Lady MacBeth (her highly stylized performance has been unfairly castigated by purists, but we defy you to take your eyes off her). Dan O'Herlihy plays MacDuff, Roddy MacDowell is Malcolm, and Edgar Barrier the unfortunate Banquo. Erskine Sanford, William Alland and Gus Schilling, veterans all of Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane, are also prominently featured, as is Welles' daughter Christopher (as one of MacDuff's murdered children). The severe cutting of the original text is compensated for by the addition of a new character, the "Holy Father" (played in Boris Karloff-style makeup by Alan Napier), whose potted Shakespearian speeches help to bridge several continuity gaps. Highlights include MacBeth's tremulous sighting of Banquo's ghost, an extended monologue in which only MacBeth's head is illuminated, and the synthesizer-like interpolations of the three ubiquitous witches. Welles had originally instructed his actors to deliver their dialogue in a thick Scots burr, but this proved so incomprehensible to preview audiences that Republic ordered the film to be completely redubbed. The original, fully restored version of MacBeth (as opposed to the 89-minute general release cut) was made available on videocassette in the mid-1980s.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
The first of Welles' Shakespeare adaptations has been so heavily cut that it's basically a vigorous sketch of the play, albeit one of sustained visual invention. While one might at first be put off by the evident limitations of the film's shoestring budget, such as Macbeth's seemingly papier-mâché crown, Welles puts one under his spell with noirishishly dark compositions, brisk editing, and characteristically relentless tracking shots. Echoing his historic 1936 stage voodoo Macbeth, the director conjures a primitive and barbaric world whose fetish objects, impaled heads, and cave-like settings are opposed by the Chistianity of Welles' invented Holy Father. This Macbeth is one driven less by his wife's ambition than his own megalomania, a familiar attribute of the director's protagonists, but Welles' acting is uneven, at best. The same could be said for the rest of the cast, particularly Jeanette Nolan, whose unique Lady Macbeth is either an exhibition of rank scenery-chewing or a performance of intriguingly Kabuki-like stylization. Yet, with all its flaws, the film has a powerful momentum, and if not the definitive film version of the play, as a record of Welles' incomparable eye, it's a fascinating artifact.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/18/2012
UPC:
0887090044004
Original Release:
1948
Rating:
NR
Source:
Olive Films
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:47:00
Sales rank:
21,352

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Orson Welles Macbeth
Jeanette Nolan Lady Macbeth
Dan O'Herlihy Macduff
Roddy McDowall Malcolm
Edgar Barrier Banquo
Alan Napier A Holy Father
Erskine Sanford Duncan
John Dierkes Ross
Peggy Webber Lady Macduff/Witch
Lionel Braham Siward
Archie Heugly Young Siward
Jerry Farber Fleance
Christopher Welles Macduff Child
Morgan Farley Doctor
Brainerd Duffield First Murderer
William Alland Second Murderer
Gus Schilling A Porter
Lurene Tuttle Gentlewoman
Robert Coote Actor
George "Shorty" Chirello Seyton
Keene Curtis Lennox
Charles Lederer Witch

Technical Credits
Orson Welles Director,Costumes/Costume Designer,Producer,Screenwriter
William Bradford Cinematographer
Jacques Ibert Score Composer
Howard Lydecker Special Effects
Theodore Lydecker Special Effects
Bob Mark Makeup
John McCarthy Set Decoration/Design
Adele Palmer Costumes/Costume Designer
James S. Redd Set Decoration/Design
Fred A. Ritter Art Director
John L. Russell Cinematographer

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