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Olivier still had unhappy memories of Czinner’s As You Like It, and insisted on full creative control over the film.Del Giudice obliged him (he’d previously given the same consideration to Noel Coward on In Which We Serve).
It also emphasized that, for all of their power, Shakespeare’s words were vital components of a living, breathing theater—cast in flesh, not stone.
Olivier’s treatment solved the problem of what to do with the part of the Chorus.
He found Olivier willing to consider starring in a film of the play.
Soon after, producer Filippo Del Giudice bought Bower’s Henry screenplay; after hearing a radio broadcast of Olivier in the role, he was convinced that Olivier should star in a filmed version.
One must try and imagine what audiences felt in 1944, expecting something dull and stately, then watching the movie transform before their eyes, surprising them with every shot.
But Henry also excels at its heart, with Olivier’s portrayal of the title role.
Olivier didn’t intend to direct the film; he wanted this responsibility to go to a more seasoned hand.
But he was turned down successively by William Wyler, Carol Reed, and Terence Young, before agreeing to direct himself.
Filmmakers with much greater records of success than Olivier’s—Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, George Cukor with Romeo and Juliet, and Paul Czinner with As You Like It (with a young Olivier as Orlando)—brought Shakespeare to the screen during the 1930s, supported by some of the most popular stars of the era.
Their reward: millions of dollars in red ink and reams of negative reviews.