Prince of Players

Prince of Players

Director: Philip Dunne, Richard Burton, Maggie McNamara, John Derek

Cast: Philip Dunne, Richard Burton, Maggie McNamara, John Derek

     
 
Screenwriter Philip Dunne doubled as director on the elaborate filmed biography Prince of Players. Richard Burton stars as the eminent American tragedian Edwin Booth, whose life and career is thrown into turmoil after his younger brother John Wilkes Booth (John Derek) assassinates Abraham Lincoln. The film begins as the younger Edwin assists his alcoholic,

Overview

Screenwriter Philip Dunne doubled as director on the elaborate filmed biography Prince of Players. Richard Burton stars as the eminent American tragedian Edwin Booth, whose life and career is thrown into turmoil after his younger brother John Wilkes Booth (John Derek) assassinates Abraham Lincoln. The film begins as the younger Edwin assists his alcoholic, ailing father Junius Brutus Booth (Raymond Massey) during a tour of the American hinterlands. When Junius dies just before a performance, Edwin goes on in his stead, thereby launching his own starring career. In danger of becoming as much of a drunk and carouser as his father, Edwin eventually pulls himself together, but his brother's act of violence turns the audience against the name of Booth. Almost booed offstage during a performance of Hamlet, Edwin stands his ground, finally earning the respect of his rowdy audience. Not exactly packed with fast action, Prince of Players will appeal most to lovers of theater in general and Shakespeare in particular. Highlight: Richard Burton and Eva LeGalleine performing the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet in the courtyard of a brothel.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
If Prince of Players is not a great film, it does afford the inestimable pleasure of seeing a young Richard Burton performing a number of scenes from Shakespeare, and that is a pleasure not to be sneezed at. Burton, with that most magical of voices, was born to play the Bard, and Players catches him early enough in his career before the development of the bad habits that would mar much of his later work. True, we're not seeing Burton reciting Shakespeare as the actor himself would; he's portraying 19th century legend Edwin Booth, and so Burton plays the scenes a tad larger than he would if left to his own devices. But they're still thrilling moments. For that matter, Burton is aces throughout the film. The problem is that, overall, Players is not that good a film. The Shakespearean scenes, highlights though they are, serve only to remind the audience that the rest of the film is on a decidedly lesser level. Oh, Moss Hart has struggled to give the screenplay dramatic heft, and there's plenty here for Burton and others to play; but it comes across as heavyhanded and none too involving. Of the supporting cast, John Derek turns in one of his better performances, and Raymond Massey comes across as a bit "too much" (although admittedly in a role that demands a certain excessive theatricality). Maggie McNamara struggles through her Juliet sequence, but does well otherwise, and Eva Le Gallienne is a treasure in her very brief role.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/03/2016
UPC:
0024543294863
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Fox Mod
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:39:00
Sales rank:
11,512

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Burton Edwin Booth
Maggie McNamara Mary Devlin
John Derek John Wilkes Booth
Raymond Massey Junius Brutus Booth
Charles Bickford Dave Prescott
Elizabeth Sellars Asia
Christopher Cook Edwin Booth at age 10
Dayton Lummis English Doctor
Ian Keith "King" in Hamlet
Paul Stader Laertes
Louis Alexander John Booth at age 12
William Walker Old Ben
Charles Cane Theater Assistant
Mae Marsh Witch in Macbeth
Stanley Hall Abraham Lincoln
Sarah Padden Mrs. Abraham Lincoln
Ruth Clifford English Nurse
Ivan Hayes Bernardo
Paul H. Frees Francisco
Ben Wright Horatio
Melinda Markey Young Lady
Eleanor Audley Mrs. Montchesington
Percival Vivian Polonius
George Dunn Doorman
Ruth Warren Nurse
Richard H. Cutting Doctor
Lane Chandler Colonel
Steven Darrell Maj. Rathbone
Tom Fadden Trenchard
Henry Kulky Bartender
Olan Soule Catesby
Eva Le Gallienne The Queen
Jack Raine Theater Manager

Technical Credits
Philip Dunne Director,Producer
Charles G. Clarke Cinematographer
Moss Hart Screenwriter
Bernard Herrmann Score Composer
Mark-Lee Kirk Art Director
Dorothy Spencer Editor
Lyle Wheeler Art Director

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