Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shakespeare Study: The Tragedy Of Romeo And Juliet

This is the third year of my Shakespeare study. I read one play each month, and then watch as many film versions as I can get my hands on, and read as many books about the play as I'm able. January, 2012 was Romeo And Juliet. This blog entry has reviews of the films, and little blurbs about the books. (Scroll down for the film reviews.)

January: The Tragedy Of Romeo And Juliet

Related Books:

- The Legend Of Romeo And Juliet by Olin H. Moore - This book traces the history of the story of Romeo and Juliet up to Shakespeare's play. Moore's main argument is that Arthur Brooke's Romeus And Juliet wasn't Shakespeare's sole source for the play, that Shakespeare must have had access to Luigi Da Porto's Giulietta E Romeo. The major flaw of this book is that whenever Moore quotes a passage, he presents the quoted material in its original language without offering an English translation. Hey, not everyone speaks Italian, French and Latin. Published in 1950.

- Manga Shakespeare: Romeo And Juliet adapated by Richard Appignanesi; illustrated by Sonia Leong - This is a strange adaptation which takes place in present-day Tokyo. Interestingly, Juliet says, "A rose by any other word would smell as sweet." In this version, Juliet has an actual bird, and carries it out to the balcony, which leads Romeo to say "I would I were thy bird." The Friar has a computer and a phone, but still sends another friar to Mantua with a letter to Romeo. Meanwhile apparently there is no cell phone reception in Mantua. It seems the Friar also tried to send an e-mail, but got an error message. The other friar returns with the letter; he offers no explanation, just "I could not send it." Apparently, there is no plague in present-day Tokyo. Romeo dismisses Balthasar before he even goes to the apothecary; thus, when he gets to the tomb he says "Partly to behold my lady's face...But chiefly to take thence from her dead finger a precious ring" to himself, which doesn't make a lick of sense. Balthasar shows up anyway, and when the Friar asks him to accompany him into the vault, he replies, "I dare not, Sir. My master did menace me with death." However, Romeo did no such thing. Those lines weren't included in this version. Published in 2007.

- Tragic Vision In Romeo And Juliet by James H. Seward - In this book, Seward argues that the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is that they are driven by passion rather than reason, that it is lust and not love that they feel. Published in 1973.

- Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story by Lisa Fiedler - This is a novel, aimed at teenagers, in which the story of Romeo And Juliet is told mostly from the perspective of Rosaline. But there are other chapters told from the perspectives of Benvolio, Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo. It basically follows the action of the play, and many lines are taken directly from the play. But there are problems, moments when it seems that the author didn't fully understand the play. For example, Rosaline is watching what is the first scene of the play, and is relieved when Benvolio says "I do but keep the peace." But then Lisa Fiedler writes (on page 42), "But now, alas, as men so often do, this Benvolio doth contradict his own wisdom. 'Put up thy sword,' he says in a hot voice." Lisa seems to think that "Put up thy sword" means prepare to fight, but of course it means the opposite. It means, put away your sword, sheathe your sword. Ten pages later she makes another error. In a chapter told by Mercutio she writes, "I turn to see that the prince has arrived. His Grace has long opposed this feud and is by no means an admirer of mine." Wrong. Mercutio is kinsman to the Prince. The Prince feels quite strongly about Mercutio in fact. And though Mercutio is not a relative of the Montagues, several times in this book he is referred to as a Montague (such as on page 87 and page 103). Lisa Fiedler gives Juliet's Nurse a name: Angelica. In this story, Rosaline is learning to become a healer. And it is this element of the story that leads the author to some ridiculous changes from the play. Tybalt doesn't die during the fight. He is unconscious, but alive, and so Rosaline substitutes another corpse, burying a criminal in the tomb in Tybalt's place. Tybalt doesn't regain consciousness, but still narrates a few chapters from his ghostly state. Pretty ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as what happens later. Neither Romeo nor Juliet dies right away in this version. And Rosaline has the idea of performing a heart transplant to save Juliet's life (this is just after Tybalt has finally died, and so his heart is available). And the poison the apothecary sold Romeo apparently wasn't fatal after all. Rosaline gives him something that causes him to vomit up the poison, and so he's suddenly okay. That is seriously stupid. But then he decides to let everyone in Verona continue to believe he's dead, because his death has brought the town together. So he leaves Verona. I wanted to smack Lisa Fiedler hard across the face when I read that. That this book is aimed at teenagers makes it even worse, for rather than helping them appreciate the play more, it's only going to confuse and irritate them. And the book's title is a problem, because Rosaline is not Romeo's "ex" - they never actually dated. There are references to other Shakespeare plays. For example, Viola and Sebastian (from Twelfth Night) make an appearance as children. And on page 114 is the line, "Virtue, like honor, is merely an airy word," making a reference to Falstaff's famous monologue from The First Part Of King Henry The Fourth. And there is more than one reference to The Taming Of The Shrew. Published in 2006.

- William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom - This is a volume in the Modern Critical Interpretations series, and includes criticism by Ruth Nevo, Northrop Frye and Thomas McAlindon, among others. Ruth Nevo brings up something I hadn't thought of before - "it is a plague which Mercutio invokes upons 'both your houses,' and an outbreak of plague which keeps the Friar a prisoner." For some reason, I hadn't thought about that specific connection. Thomas McAlindon writes that Romeo "has come to the masque in the disguise of a palmer (hence the candle)." I'd read elsewhere that Romeo's name is an Italian word for "pilgrim," but I hadn't thought that he actually attends the party at Capulet's home dressed as a palmer. It certainly adds something to Juliet's first line to Romeo, in which she calls him "Good pilgrim." I had thought that was due to his being a stranger and that he called her hand, her body, a "holy shrine" and his lips "two blushing pilgrims." Published in 2000.

- Letters To Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare's Greatest Heroine, The Magical City Of Verona, And The Power Of Love by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman - This book chronicles the way the city of Verona has responded to the letters that folks have been writing to the fictional character of Juliet for decades. Apparently many people believe that Romeo and Juliet were actual people, and that the story took place in 1303. There is a tomb in Verona that is believed to be Juliet's, as well as a home considered to be hers and a home believed to be Romeo's. People from all over the world write letters to Juliet, seeking advice and comfort with regards to love and their relations. This book tells the story of those whose vocation it has been to answer these letters. It also includes many of the letters themselves. Published in 2006.

- The First Quarto Of Romeo And Juliet edited by Lukas Erne - This is a volume in The Early Quartos series of The New Cambridge Shakespeare. It contains a well annotated edition of the First Quarto, as well as a long introduction and several tables showing readings by different editors. One of the items in the introduction that stood out for me was regarding Romeo's threat of suicide in Friar Lawrence's cell. Erne writes, "At least one Q1 stage direction even suggests an interpretation that contrasts with Q2. Bewailing his banishment, Romeo is about to commit suicide, but the Nurse prevents him from doing so: 'He offers to stab himself, and Nurse snatches the dagger away' ... Nothing in Q2 suggests that the Nurse takes an active part in stopping Romeo's desperate action, and several modern productions, including Zeffirelli's and Luhrmann's film versions, have her shrink back in horror while Friar Laurence bravely intervenes. The contrast between the stage direction in Q1 and standard modern stage practice is well worth thinking about in the context of a play that questions stereotypical attitudes to gender in a variety of ways, including the protagonists' respective suicides - poison and stabbing - in an inversion of what traditional gender roles dictate" (page 29). Another observation that Erne makes is "The Nurse's first allegiance in Q2 seems to be to the parents, in Q1 to Juliet, expressed in an iambic pentameter shared between them... Whether by accident or design Q1's Nurse seems repeatedly more benevolent and sympathetic towards Juliet than her counterpart in Q2" (page 31). And one last thing I hadn't thought about before, that Erne talks about: "Shakespeare from quite early on encouraged the publication of his playbooks and was aware that his plays were not only being performed onstage but also read on the page. In other words, Q2 and similarly long play-texts seem to have been conceived by Shakespeare as reading texts in the knowledge that they would not reach the stage without substantial abridgement. If so, then the greater complexity of characters in the long text may partly be a matter of the medium of literacy for which they were designed" (pages 32 - 33).

- Romeo & Juliet & Vampires by Claudia Gabel - This novel aimed at teenagers takes the story of Romeo And Juliet and changes the location from Verona to Transylvania, and makes the Capulets a family of vampires and the Montagues a family of vampire hunters. The Prince has called for a truce between humans and vampires, but neither the Capulets nor the Montagues are happy about this. Juliet is about to turn 16, not 14. At 16, she'll become a vampire and have to kill a human, or die herself. Romeo is in love with Rosaline, a 15-year-old Capulet. Mercutio is dating Rosaline's servant, and that's how Romeo learns about the party at the Capulet house. He convinces Benvolio and Mercutio to accompany him, first getting garlic and holy water from Friar Laurence. Before the party, Romeo actually gets to tell his dream to Benvolio and Mercutio, and it's a variation of what he says at the beginning of Act V before Balthasar gives him the bad news. In this novel, Romeo asks Juliet to marry him during the balcony scene - it is he, not Juliet, who mentions marriage. When Tybalt slays Mercutio, Mercutio asks Romeo, "Why did you come between us," and Romeo says, "I - I just wanted to help." Mercutio does say, "A plague on both your houses." This version actually includes the confusion when Nurse says "He is dead, my lady" and Juliet thinks she is referring to Romeo, but she of course is referring to Tybalt. When banished, this Romeo is much more together than Shakespeare had written him. When Friar Laurence tells him to hide, he actually does, rather than lying on the floor, sobbing. It is Benvolio, not Balthasar, that goes to Romeo in exile, and not with words of Juliet's death (because Benvolio doesn't even know about her), but with provisions. Romeo goes back because there is a two-week quarantine because of small pox and he can't wait that long to see Juliet. The potion that the Friar gives Juliet is a bit different in this version. Friar tells her she'll appear dead, but will still be able to hear and see. In this version, Lord Capulet does not grieve at Juliet's death. Romeo learns of her apparent death by overhearing a conversation in a pub once he sneaks back into town. Outside the tomb, Romeo actually tells Paris that Juliet is his wife. But it makes no sense that Paris would even be at the tomb, as it was made clear early on that he didn't really love Juliet. Romeo drinks the potion, and Juliet is aware of it, but can't move until he's already imbibed it. She can't revive him, yet still hears a faint heartbeat. And the end of this novel is stupid. Juliet drinks Romeo's blood, hoping to turn him into a vampire. But she herself isn't a vampire yet, because she never did the initiation - she didn't take the life of a human. And yet, Romeo wakes. How? He took poison, and then was nearly drained of blood. And that revives him? Are we supposed to believe that she somehow drained all the poison from his body? Anyway, he drinks from her blood and becomes a vampire. So neither of them actually dies. And they go off and live in some distant land. At the end of the book, there is a one-paragraph biography of William Shakespeare that ends with this line, "We're pretty sure he would think this version of his play is awesome." Really? I very much doubt that. I didn't even think it was any good, and I'm not the greatest writer in the history of the English language. Published in 2010.)

- Romeo And Juliet/West Side Story with an introduction by Norris Houghton - This volume contains both plays, and a short introduction by Norris Houghton regarding the relationship between the two plays. West Side Story is by Arthur Laurents, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The notes for Romeo And Juliet in this edition are by John Bettenbender, and are fairly rudimentary, often doing little more than defining words. No mention is made of which Quarto the editor favored for a particular passage. However, interestingly, in Act III Scene iii, this edition contains the line "Flies may do this, but I from this must fly" and then also "This may flies do, when I from this must fly." This edition divides Act IV into five scenes rather than four, the fifth scene beginning when Nurse goes to wake Juliet. At the beginning of that scene, this edition has the line "O, weladay that ever I was born!" (The Yale edition has the line has "O weraday that ever I was born!") In Act V Scene iii, this edition follows the Third Quarto in presenting the line as "And never from this palace of dim night" rather than the Q2 reading of "And never from this pallet of dim night." This edition also contains some extra lines in that scene. After the line "Depart again. Here, here I will remain" are the lines "Depart again, come lie thou in my arm/Here's to thy health, where'er thou tumblest in." But again, the notes offer no explanations of these choices. Published in 1965.

Film Versions:

- Romeo & Juliet (1978) with Patrick Ryecart, Rebecca Saire, Alan Rickman, Anthony Andrews, Celia Johnson; directed by Alvin Rakoff. This production has an uneven cast. While Rebecca Saire has the right look for Juliet - that is, she can pass for being thirteen - she's not a very strong actor. And Patrick Ryecart as Romeo isn't very good either, and appears to be too old. (He looks a bit like Tim Curry.) However, Alan Rickman is wonderful as Tybalt, and Anthony Andrews is really good as Mercutio. My favorite performances are by Michael Horden as Capulet, Celia Johnson as Nurse and Joseph O'Conor as Friar Lawrence. And it's nice to see John Gielgud briefly as Chorus. Some of the opening dialogue between Sampson and Gregory in the first scene is cut. In the first brawl, there is a very strange bit added in which a woman carrying a child suddenly falls, a sword accidentally hitting the child, and then we see the child is bloody. It comes out of nowhere and is really a bit too serious at this stage in the play. That leads to a single citizen shouting, "Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!" The dialogue between Capulet and Tybalt at the party is done really well. And the Friar is great in the scene with Romeo when Romeo asks him to wed him and Juliet. Celia Johnson is excellent in the scene where Juliet wants the news about Romeo. But Rebecca's reaction should have been huge when she finally got the answer she sought - and we see no reaction at all. The Mercutio/Tybalt fight is playful, but drawn out a bit too much. And Patrick is simply terrible in his delivery of "I thought all for the best" when Mercutio is wounded, dying. Romeo doesn't react at all to his good friend's doom. Cut is most of Benvolio's explanation of what occurred. All he is allowed to say is "Tybalt now slain, whom Romeo's hand did slay." (Why he says "now slain" instead of "here slain" I don't know.) So the Prince has none of the information about how Romeo tried to stop the fight. A scene that is wonderful is the scene when Capulet gets upset with Juliet over her refusal to wed Paris. Michael Horden is perfect. I love that the Friar picks up the vial that Juliet dropped by her bed, so that others won't find it. The musician's line about staying for dinner is cut. But the most disastrous cuts are at the end. Some of them are unforgivable. Romeo's lines about going to see the apothecary are cut. He just suddenly shows up there. And then Romeo's last three lines from that scene are cut, so that the scene ends with the line, "I sell thee poison, thou hast sold me none." Romeo's lines to Balthasar about taking the ring from Juliet are cut. And Romeo seems pointlessly cold to Balthasar in that scene. It's not like Balthasar is even trying to follow him into the tomb. Romeo is standing at the top of the staircase, Balthasar at the bottom. So Romeo's cruel lines are unmotivated. But the worst cuts are still to come. Shockingly missing is Romeo's line, "O true apothecary,/Thy drugs are quick." How can you cut that line? And why would you cut that line? And then the Friar's explanation to the Prince is completely cut. All that remains is the line, "Romeo there dead was husband to that Juliet." But everything about the sleeping potion and the undelivered letter to Romeo is cut. And perhaps an even worse cut is the bit about how Juliet awoke and "it seems did violence on herself." That is important information for the Prince to have. Also cut is everything about the letter that Romeo wrote, which Balthasar has. In this version, there is no such letter. So the Prince has basically no information (just like in Act III Scene 1). How dare they make such drastic cuts to the play's final scene? One last note: this is the first of the BBC productions I've seen in which the full title of the play is not used.

- Romeo And Juliet (1936) with Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore, Basil Rathbone; directed by George Cukor. The Chorus reads the prologue from a parchment, and ends with "take their life." The Capulets and Montagues arrive in town in a parade-like ceremony. The first brawl is big, involving lots of people, and several people are stabbed. After the Prince has his lines, it goes right to the second scene, with Capulet and Paris. Cut is the dialogue between Montague and Benvolio. Then when the servant is given the list of people to invite to the party, the film goes to Scene iii. So Juliet (Norma Shearer) is introduced before Romeo. Norma Shearer is in her thirties, way too old for the part. There is no way she can pass for thirteen. Edna May Oliver isn't very good as Nurse; her gruff voice seems odd. When Juliet sees Paris, she seems taken with him; and for some reason she is holding a bow and arrow. Then the film goes back to Scene i for the dialogue between Benvolio and Romeo (Leslie Howard, who is also too old for the role - being in his forties at the time). They almost immediately mention Rosaline by name, something Shakespeare didn't write. At the party, Rosaline is pointed out, and Romeo goes to her. She shuns him, which leads Romeo to say his "She hath forsworn to love" line from Scene i. Juliet's entrance is grand, with an extended dance where all the other women surround her. At the end of Act I, Juliet and Nurse walk down a long corridor, and as they pass, the lights on the wall are snuffed. The Chorus is cut from the end of Act I. I really like John Barrymore's performance as Mercutio at the beginning of Act II. And there are nice moments during the balcony scene. The lines designating the specific hour of meeting are cut. This version has Juliet saying "Parting is such sweet sorrow" and Romeo saying, "Sleep dwell upon thine eyes" (as in the First Quarto, not the Second Quarto). Romeo's last lines from that scene are cut. The film goes directly into Act II Scene iii. Mercutio's line "Any man that can write may answer a letter" is cut. Mercutio says "The immortal passado! The punto reverso! The hai!" but does not demonstrate those particular moves as is usually done. Juliet has her line, "The clock struck nine when I did send the Nurse" even though the earlier line mentioning that hour was cut. After the wonderful scene between Juliet and Nurse, we then go back to Act II Scene ii between Romeo and the Friar. That scene is combined with Scene v. John Barrymore mispronounces "zounds," making it rhyme with "sounds." In this version, Mercutio doesn't at first realize his wound is serious. And even later when he repeats "A plague on both your houses," he says it with a laugh. It's weird. Romeo goes with Mercutio and Benvolio, and so is with Mercutio when he dies. And then he gives the line about Juliet's beauty making him effeminate. He then rushes out and picks up a sword and goes looking for Tybalt, which is completely different from the way it's written. After the Prince arrives, Benvolio gives a brief account of things, and the Prince immediately banishes Romeo - without hearing Capulet's wife's lines, which are cut. We see Nurse in the crowd hearing Prince's words. Then it skips Act III Scene ii and goes right to Scene iii with the Friar. Then we see Juliet, and she already has the rope ladder. We now have Scene ii. But when Nurse enters, she is not carrying the cords of course, as we already saw the ladder. Gone is Juliet's confusion over who is dead. That's the worst cut so far. Nurse right away tells her Tybalt is dead and Romeo banished. Then we go back to Scene iii when Nurse knocks on the Friar's door. Scene iv is cut. We actually see Romeo climb the rope ladder, which is nice. And we see night pass into day, with shots of the morning birds before going into Scene v. All of that is done really well. In the scene where Capulet gets upset at Juliet, some of Capulet's best lines are cut, like "Out! you green-sickness carrion, out! you baggage,/You tallow-face!" After Act IV Scene 1, we actually see Friar begin his letter to Romeo, as well as him handing it off to Friar John to be sent. He says, "Hence to Mantua. Early in the morning, see thou deliver it" (lines not in the play). This leads to another scene not in the play, where Friar John looks after someone with the plague, and a panic is caused in the streets. Friar John is shut in. This scene is spoken of later in the play, but in this film we actually see it. Act IV Scene ii is cut. When Capulet sees Juliet he goes right into "Death lies on her like an untimely frost." Cutting out his first several lines makes him seem cold and uncaring. A poor choice. All the stuff with the Friar is cut, as well as the dialogue with the musicians. We then actually see Romeo write his letter and send it off (which is completely weird, since the whole bit with the letter at the end is cut). And we get a shot of Friar John still locked in that room with the plague victim. We then see Juliet's funeral procession. Balthasar sees it too, and rides off to Act V. Romeo's speech after "Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight" is cut. So gone are his lines where he decides to go to the apothecary. Romeo's last lines from the apothecary scene are cut, so it ends with "I sell thee poison, thou hast sold me none." Most of Romeo's lines to Balthasar outside the tomb are cut. They part on friendly terms. Cut is everything about the ring. Cut also are Romeo's threats. I love that Romeo is just about to enter the tomb when he says, "And in despite I'll cram thee with more food." And his delivery of "live" to Paris is perfect. His fight with Paris is inside the crypt. But there is no Page to go call the watch. The dialogue between Friar and Balthasar is cut. The Friar doesn't exit until after Juliet's line "For I will not away," which doesn't make sense - because then the Friar would know she plans to kill herself. And wouldn't he try to stop her? Juliet's lines, "What's here? a cup clos'd in my true love's hand!/Poison I see hath been his timeless end" are cut. How can you cut that? That's probably the worst cut of the film. Juliet stabs herself before saying "There rust and let me die," which is kind of nice. The film ends abruptly with the Prince arriving and saying "Capulet! Montague!/See what a scourge is laid upon your hate." Cut is the Friar's long speech. (time: 124 minutes)

- Romeo And Juliet (1968) with Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey, John McEnery, Milo O'Shea, Pat Heywood, Michael York, Bruce Robinson; directed by Franco Zeffirelli. I love this production, even though it has strange cuts, the worst being the apothecary scene. The prologue is done as voice over. A lot of Sampson and Gregory's lines are cut, including, sadly, "Is the law of our side if I say 'ay'?" But the opening brawl is pretty good, with the citizens clearly angry at both houses. And I really like Bruce Robinson's performance as Benvolio. This film has a lot of nice touches. For example, Capulet sees Juliet playing when Paris asks about his suit in Act I Scene ii. And then after "Younger than she are happy mothers made," Capulet's Wife looks across toward them, leading Capulet to say "And too soon marr'd are those so early made," which adds another dimension to their relationship. We go from the Capulet/Paris scene straight to Scene iii. That means the bit with the illiterate servant is cut. However, that servant is what leads to Romeo attending the party. So how does Romeo know that Rosaline will be there? The serving man comes in a bit early, before Juliet answers her mother's question about Paris. Mercutio goes a bit crazy in Scene iv, and Romeo comforts him. An interesting and sweet moment. Romeo does watch another girl, presumably Rosaline, until he spies Juliet. Romeo lifts his mask when he gives his "she doth teach the torches to burn bright" speech. Tybalt sees him and then says "This by his voice should be a Montague." But as he's seen him, the line doesn't make sense. A couple of Capulet's lines to Tybalt are spoken by Capulet's Wife, and one - "For shame!/I'll make you quiet" - she actually speaks to Capulet. Weird, but clearly intended to flesh out their relationship. A song is added. (Titled "What Is A Youth" it was written by Nino Rota and Eugene Walter.) And during this, Romeo and Juliet find each other. It's a great scene. The youthful excitement of love is believable in these two actors. In Act II Scene i most of the dialogue between Mercutio and Benvolio is cut. Romeo goes from the "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks" to "It is my lady," shockingly cutting "It is the East and Juliet is the sun." I'm not sure how you can decide to cut that line. In this version it is Juliet who says "Parting is such sweet sorrow," as in the First Quarto (Romeo says that line in the Second Quarto). (Romeo also has that line in the First Folio.) And that is the last line of the scene. We then see Romeo joyfully running through the woods. In Act II Scene ii, the Friar's lines before Romeo's entrance are cut. In Act II Scene iii, a lot of Mercutio's lines about Tybalt are cut, which is a shame. Peter's response to Nurse after Mercutio's teasing is cut. Another nice touch is that after Nurse refuses payment from Romeo, Romeo goes to put the coin in the church box, but she intercepts it. But then a lot of the Nurse's teasing of Juliet is cut, including the great bit about being out of breath. That's one of my favorite moments in the play, and it's a shame to cut any bit of it. We see some of the wedding at the end of Act II. In this version, Tybalt really does draw Mercutio into a fight. But it's all in good fun. Tybalt gets the better of him more than once without hurting him. And then Tybalt is truly surprised to find blood on his sword. Very nice. Benvolio and Mercutio don't exit, so Mercutio dies in front of Romeo. Romeo goes chasing after Tybalt. After the fight, this film goes directly to Act III Scene ii. And the beginning of Scene ii is cut. It begins with Nurse saying that Tybalt is dead, so we miss that wonderful confusion where Juliet thinks Romeo is dead. Then it goes back to the scene with the Prince, and Benvolio telling him what occurred. So then Romeo is banished. Because of this order in scenes, Nurse wouldn't have the knowledge of the banishment or be able to tell Juliet. We lose the dialogue in which Nurse tells Juliet that she'll find Romeo. But after the scene with the Prince we go right to Nurse's arrival at the Friar's. Act III Scene iv is cut. Olivia Hussey is fantastic as Juliet when she feels that Nurse has turned against her too - when Nurse recommends she marry Paris. This is one of the best moments of the film. But at the Friar's, Juliet doesn't threaten to kill herself with the knife, and in the play that's what leads Friar to his solution. Most of Act IV Scene ii is cut, as well as the beginning of Scene iii. Juliet does not say her farewell to her mother, and her entire speech where she hesitates before drinking the vial is cut. All she says is, "Love give me strength," which is a line from the end of Act IV Scene i. Added is a scene where the Friar gives the letter to Friar John and instructs him to give it to Romeo. The beginning of Scene iv is cut, so the scene begins with the Nurse screaming that Juliet is dead. Everything with the Friar is cut from that scene. So too the stuff with the musicians. We do see the funeral procession, and we see Balthasar seeing it. There is a great moment where the Friar smiles at Juliet, then realizes he's smiling and stops. There is a shot of Balthasar speeding past Friar John on the road to Mantua - so gone is the idea of the plague halting Friar John's progress. Balthasar says "She's dead" instead of "Then she is well and nothing can be ill." On the road, Romeo and Balthasar speed past Friar John, who is still making his way to Mantua. They go straight to the tomb, where he quickly dismisses Balthasar. This section of the play is rushed. Cut is the entire scene with the apothecary. Cut are all of Romeo's threats to Balthasar, as well as the stuff about the ring. Cut also is the fight with Paris. Paris is not there. That means the page is not there either. So who calls the watch? But the tomb looks great, with lots of bodies in various stages of decay. Romeo still has the poison - where did he get it? Of course he doesn't say the line "O true apothecary/Thy drugs are quick." Friar shows up and finds Balthasar. But why does the Friar go when he's unaware that Romeo didn't receive his letter? Friar says "I dare no longer stay" four times. But he doesn't tell Juliet that Romeo is dead. Instead, she spies his body as Friar leaves. After Juliet stabs herself, we go to the next day. So cut is the Friar's entire speech to the Prince. The scene is a funeral procession in which Juliet is being carried next to Romeo. This is odd, since she is being carried out of her own tomb. To where? The scene begins with the Prince's lines, "Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!/See what a scourge is laid upon your hate." But when the Prince says he's lost a brace of kinsmen, who does he mean? Because Paris yet lives. Of his kinsmen, only Mercutio is dead. Montague's wife is also still alive at the end of this version. The dialogue between Capulet and Montague at the end is cut, which seems wrong, and the Prince's last lines are done as voice over by Chorus. But even with some insane cuts, I really think this is an excellent production. And of course I should mention that the music is wonderful. (time: 138 minutes)

- Romeo And Juliet (1976) with Christopher Neame, Ann Hasson, Robin Nedwell, Patsy Byrne, Clive Swift; directed by Joan Kemp-Welch. It's wonderful to see the complete play done, with no scene omitted. There are some wonderful performances in this production, especially by Clive Swift as Friar Lawrence. And I love Patsy Byrne as the Nurse (though it's difficult to get her other nurse role, from Blackadder, out of my head). But Ann Hasson as Juliet is less than stellar. And this production overall seems a bit flat, though there are several excellent moments. Sampson and Gregory are appropriately playful at the beginning. And the timing is great on Sampson's "No, sir" after hearing from Gregory that the law would not be on their side. That made me laugh out loud. In this production Romeo says "I have left myself" rather than "I have lost myself." I prefer "left," which was an emendation in 1875. The servant speaks his bit about the list of names directly to us, then drinks from his master's cup before exiting - a nice touch. Juliet's first scene, with Nurse and Capulet's Wife, is fairly dull, static, the three of them simply seated outside. In Act I Scene iv, Mercutio says his "True, I talk of dreams" almost as if to himself, lost in serious thought, rather than pointedly at Romeo. At the party, I love the way Capulet delivers his lines about how he once wore a visor. He makes it clear that he knows they're crashing the party, and that it's okay. Romeo speaks his first lines about Juliet while standing in the open, rather than quietly to himself, which doesn't quite work. The Chorus doesn't enter the scene at the end, but is in his own, unspecified location. In the balcony scene, Juliet says "that which we call a rose/By any other word would smell as sweet," following the Second Quarto. Something about Ann Hasson's voice doesn't quite work in the balcony scene. I'm not exactly sure what it is. Juliet speaks the line, "Parting is such sweet sorrow," and Romeo says, "Sleep dwell upon thine eyes." Friar Lawrence speaks his opening lines to himself, not to us. (You'll recognize Clive Swift from Keeping Up Appearances.) This scene is great between Friar and Romeo. I like that Romeo stresses "today" in the line "That thou consent to marry us today," showing the urgency his new love or infatuation has created. Ann Hasson is kind of weak in her scene with the Nurse (Act II Scene iv). She plays the scene all in the same way, not finding the various layers. That scene is one of my favorites from the play, and in this production Ann's performance makes it rather flat and uninteresting. In Act III, there is the sound of flies buzzing throughout the scene before the fight (also there are church bells, which were used in an earlier scene too - these sounds are distracting). In the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt, Tybalt makes a move and Mercutio calls it "The punto reverso." I like that Tybalt actually uses a move that was mentioned earlier, but I'm not sure I like the added line. The fight is playful, neither clearly wanting to truly hurt the other. But then suddenly Tybalt does draw blood, hitting Mercutio's arm. Added is a moment where Mercutio plays dead. However, the fatal blow comes just before Romeo comes between them, so the blow does not come under Romeo's arm, and the play suggests. Some harsh lighting in Act III Scene ii makes Juliet look forty years old after she scolds Nurse for speaking ill of Romeo. Act III Scene iii is really good, though the camera angle on Friar's closeup was poorly chosen. At the beginning of Scene v, Romeo is already up and dressed, rather than in bed with Juliet. He does then lie down with her. We don't see Juliet's reaction when Romeo says she bids him to die, and that's the moment when she changes from wanting him to stay to urging him to go. We need to see that on her face. This is an uneven scene anyway, because Christopher Neame's performance is much better than hers. However, Ann Hasson is really good in her reaction to Nurse's advice to marry Paris. That is one of her best moments. She is also pretty good in Act IV Scene i, with Paris and the Friar. Why do we hear birds chirping while Juliet gives her speech before drinking the sleeping potion. The sound effects in this production are often distracting. Patsy Byrne is wonderful as the Nurse when she goes to wake Juliet. In Act V, the apothecary is a bit too full in body for the line "Famine is in thy cheeks." The actor seems much too healthy for the part of the poor apothecary. In the tomb, Juliet says "For I will not away" before the Friar leaves. (time: 186 minutes)

- West Side Story (1961) with Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris; directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. This musical adaptation of Romeo And Juliet takes place in New York rather than Verona, and features two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, rather than the two families, the Montagues and Capulets. The opening brawl is done mostly as a dance before finally turning into an actual fight. Two cops (rather than the Prince and his men) arrive to break it up. The stakes aren't nearly as high as in the play. If caught fighting again, these kids are threatened with jail time rather than with death. Tony (the Romeo character in this film) wasn't at the fight, not because he's lost in adoration for Rosaline (there is no Rosaline character in this film), but because he got a job and was working. Riff (this film's Mercutio) goes to get him, to convince him to go to the dance that night, where both gangs will meet on neutral turf. So even though Riff is the film's Mercutio, he also acts in this scene as Benvolio. (There really is no Benvolio in this film, unless it is Baby John.) Maria (the Juliet character) is introduced with her friend Anita (who functions basically as the Nurse character). They're both Puerto Ricans - the Sharks are a Puerto Rican gang. This scene also introduces us to Bernardo (the movie's Tybalt), who is Maria's brother rather than cousin, and Chino (the film's version of Paris). Bernardo and Anita are dating (an interesting variation from the play, though in the play it's Nurse who seems to mourn most Tybalt's death, so maybe there was something there). Tony and Maria meet at the dance, and instantly fall for each other. After the dance is the film's best song, "America." Oddly, this song has absolutely nothing to do with the play. It's about being an immigrant in the United States. We do get the balcony scene, but it begins with Tony calling to Maria from the street. And then he climbs up to her on the fire escape, so she ends up looking up at him through a good part of the scene. They plan to meet at 6 p.m. the next day, which is closing time at the bridal shop where Maria works. Just before that time the next day, Maria sings that "I Feel Pretty" song. In this film, Tony and Maria don't actually get married, but they pretend to in the bridal shop, exchanging vows and everything. But again, the stakes aren't as high, because they're not really married. And keep in mind there are no parents in this film, so no one is forcing her to wed Chino. So there is no urgency. The Jets and the Sharks have a fight planned, and Maria tells Tony to stop it. But of course when he goes to stop it, things go wrong. Bernardo stabs Riff, and then Tony grabs a knife and stabs Bernardo. In the play, Mercutio and Paris are both related to the Prince. In this film, there is no relation between the cop and either Bernardo or Chino. So again, the stakes aren't as high. Chino (rather than Anita) goes to tell Maria the results of the fight. Tony doesn't get banished. He doesn't leave town; he hides. Again, the cops don't pose as much of a threat as did the Prince in the play. But Tony does sneak into Maria's room, and they sleep together. Anita does knock on the door while they're in bed, like the Nurse does in the play, except in this case Anita doesn't know Tony's in there. Tony tells Maria to meet him at Doc's store, that Doc will help them with some money so they can leave town. (Doc is the closest thing this film has to the role of Friar.) The cop detains Maria for a moment to ask her some questions, so she asks Anita to go to the store to give a message to Tony. And that leads to the best scene of the film, which oddly has no real counterpart in Shakespeare's play. Anita, whose boyfriend has been killed by Tony, goes to help Tony. That alone is intense. When she arrives in the store, all of the Jets are there. Doc is apparently upstairs, while Tony is hiding in the basement, so both are unaware of her presence. Anita tries to get by, to give Doc or Tony the message, but the Jets won't let her. In a scene that is very close to rape, Rita Moreno gives a great performance as Anita. Doc arrives before things go too far, but Anita is clearly shaken, and in understandable anger, she changes the message. She says that Maria is dead, that Chino killed her because he had found out about things between her and Tony. And then Anita leaves. That is by far the most powerful scene in the film, and it's ironic that this film is best when it deviates completely from its source. So when Tony gets the message, he runs into the streets, distraught, yelling to Chino to come and kill him. But then he sees Maria, who apparently has finished answering the cop's questions, and he runs to her. But just as Tony reaches her, Chino shoots him. Tony dies in Maria's arms. Both gangs arrive, and Maria grabs Chino's gun, threatening to kill all of them, and threatening to kill herself. But she doesn't fire the gun. She doesn't kill herself. And members of both gangs help carry Tony's body. The look of the film is wonderful, and there is some excellent dancing. But this film is completely devoid of Shakespeare's poetry, and of the intensity of the play. Essentially the script is crap. It might have been interesting to see Maria learn that Anita betrayed her, but I guess that's beyond the scope of the film. And it would have been great if Maria had killed herself. (time: 153 minutes)

- The Secret Sex Lives Of Romeo And Juliet (1969) directed by A.P. Stootsberry. This is a playful softcore comedy version of Romeo And Juliet. It actually begins at the Globe Theatre, where a drunk and rowdy audience demands to see Romeo And Juliet. They threaten to burn the theatre down if the play doesn't start immediately, a joking reference to the fact that the Globe Theatre did in fact burn down (though during a production of Henry The Eighth rather than Romeo And Juliet). The characters are each introduced while in the middle of various sexual acts. The characters include six maids. Gregory fondles Lady Capulet's ass in the first scene. The sword fight is between Gregory and Balthasar, performed to the cheering of the crowd of the playhouse. The Prince stops them, saying it's the third time they've disturbed the streets. There is the repeated joke of the location of the play as "beautiful downtown Verona." When we're introduced to Juliet, we see her having sex with the Prince. She of course doesn't want Romeo to find out. The action of the play is often interrupted by jokes. Like this one: "If a captain of a ship had a first mate by the name of Monty and he glued his door shut, could you say, 'Cap, you let Monty glue you in'?" There is a wonderful period-type song playing during the scene with Juliet and the Prince (and again later), whose lyrics refer to Juliet as a "wanton country maid." The song also mentions "golden showers" (though there are no such scenes in the film). Juliet tells the Nurse that she's certain Romeo is faithful to her. She then says, "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" And the film cuts to Romeo fondling Lady Capulet, so clearly the filmmakers had no idea what the word "wherefore" means. Anyway, Capulet arranges the marriage between Juliet and Paris, although Paris is gay. And there is a scene in the dungeon of the Capulet house, where a naked woman is being whipped for stealing Lady Capulet's scarves. When Balthasar asks Gregory for a kiss, Gregory turns to the camera and says, "Willie never wrote this." Indeed. We do get the balcony scene, and interestingly, as far as the dialogue goes, this is the most faithful scene. However, while Romeo stands in the garden beneath Juliet's balcony, it's revealed that another woman is going down on him. Meanwhile, someone is under Juliet's dress, going down on her. When Romeo delivers his line about being a glove on her hand so he could touch that cheek, he touches the butt cheek of the woman in the garden. Then there is a long and extremely boring orgy scene with the servants. Romeo goes to the Friar to ask him to wed him to Juliet. He tells the Friar he killed Tybalt (but we didn't have the scene of the fight - in fact, there doesn't seem to be a Tybalt or a Mercutio in this film), so he'll be banished from "beautiful downtown Verona." The Friar fools around with the Nurse, and gives her the message to give to Juliet. Juliet is so distraught by the news that she takes the Nurse to bed. Capulet comes into Juliet's room to let her know she'll be wed to Paris the next day. Friar goes to Juliet to give her the sleeping potion, leaving Romeo and the Nurse along, and because this was shot in the late 1960s, the Nurse shouts, "Sock it to me." Romeo. along with the rest of the folks in beautiful downtown Verona, hears that Juliet is dead and goes to her tomb. He finds the vial of the sleeping potion, and thinking it poison, swallows what is left. He falls next to the coffin. Montague and Capulet enter the tomb, see the two dead, and lift Romeo's body into the coffin with Juliet and put the lid on the coffin. After they leave, we hear Romeo and Juliet awake, and that's the end of the film. (time: 92 minutes)

- Romeo And Juliet (1984) with Alessandra Ferri, Wayne Eagling, Stephen Jefferies, David Drew, Mark Freeman; directed by Colin Nears and Kenneth MacMillan. This is a filmed performance of The Royal Ballet doing Romeo And Juliet at The Royal Opera House in Convent Garden. The choreography during the opening brawl is great, the clanking of many swords working in time with the music. Capulet and Montague actually engage in a bit of swordplay themselves in this version. When Prince shows up, the dead from both sides are piled up. Yes, people were killed in the brawl in this production. Swords from both sides are then laid at the Prince's feet. Then the production moves to Juliet dancing around her nurse, acting even younger than her thirteen years. Paris is then introduced to her. But their dance together seems like wooing, and Paris never really woos her in the play. Then we go to the exterior of the Capulet home, before the party, with folks arriving. The opening dance at the party is incredibly serious, solemn rather than festive. During this scene is the first time we hear applause from the audience, the first time we're aware that this is a live performance. Paris and Juliet dance. Then Romeo and Juliet dance, but not as part of a bigger dance, but rather with everyone watching. Nothing secretive about it. That of course gives it a very different tone. The stage then does clear for Romeo and Juliet to be alone for another dance. But then Tybalt comes in, recognizing Romeo. Capulet comes between them before Tybalt and Romeo could come to blows. It's not long into the balcony scene before Juliet comes down (Romeo does not climb up) so they can dance. After all, there's not enough room to dance in the small balcony of the set. And she returns to the balcony for the end of the scene - the two of them reaching for each other. Then there is a long scene at the marketplace, with lots of dancers. I found myself longing for the Nurse to make her entrance. And finally she does. And she, Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio have a playful dance together. At Friar Lawrence's chapel, the Nurse brings Juliet in, and we see the wedding ceremony. In the next marketplace scene, Romeo does not come between Mercutio and Tybalt. In fact, Tybalt is truly played as a villain in this production, stabbing Mercutio in the back (after Mercutio tossed him his sword). Mercutio is fairly funny after being stabbed, trying to continue the fight, then pretending his sword is a musical instrument. What would be the line "A plague on both your houses" were there dialogue was done by Mercutio agrily pointing at Tybalt and then at Romeo before dying. The fight between Romeo and Tybalt is fast-paced and pretty great. Then we go to Juliet's bedroom, where Romeo and Juliet wake up together. Their dance before he goes out the window is wonderful. Nurse, Lady Capulet and Capulet come in, followed by Paris - for how else are they to show who she'll be wed to without dialogue? After Capulet strikes her, they exit, leaving Juliet alone for a while - a good moment. When Juliet arrives at the Friar's, Paris is not there in this version (after all, he was present in the previous scene, so not needed here). Friar gives her the potion, and the scene returns to her bedroom, where she hides the vial under her pillow. Nurse, Capulet, Lady Capulet and Paris re-enter. Juliet is still running away from Paris rather than pretending to be the dutiful daughter - at least, at first. But by the end she bows to Paris. So they leave. Juliet dances with the bottle, then away from the bottle, before finally drinking from it. Maids find her in the morning before the Nurse enters. And then Capulet enters, cradling her body, rather than Lady Capulet. We see the end of the funeral at the crypt, with everyone leaving, except Paris, who remains behind at Juliet's side. Romeo enters. The fight between Romeo and Paris is incredibly brief, just a few seconds. Romeo lifts Juliet's and dances with her lifeless body, as if trying to will her to live. Eventually he gives up, lays her back down, and then takes the poison. Of course, there was no apothecary scene, explaining how he got the poison. Also, there is no Balthasar in this production, nor a page to call the watch. Juliet awakens moments later. Friar Lawrenc is not there, so she discovers Romeo's body on her own. She then stabs herself without seeing if there is more poison in the vial. This production ends with her death. There is no final scene with the Prince and Montague and Capulet. (Time: 130 minutes)

- William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996) with Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Rudd, Paul Sorvino, Harold Perrineau, Miriam Margolyes; directed by Baz Luhrmann. This production is a modern adaptation in location, dress and style, but retains Shakespeare's language and poetry. It's an interesting combination, and when it works it's incredible. This film is best in its quieter moments. When it gets frenetic, it becomes silly and irritating. The prologue is done by a news reporter on a television, and then again as voice over. The first part of the first scene is done in a moving car. Oddly, the first line is "A dog of the house of Capulet moves me." The line in the play is Sampson's and it is "A dog of the house of Montague moves me." The opening lines are given to the Montagues, including the thumb-biting bit, which is done at a gas station. Why switch houses for that dialogue? One of the things that doesn't work for me is trading the swords and knives in for guns, especially as the lines remain the same. Benvolio still says, "Put up your swords." Tybalt shoots as they drive away, then burns down the gas station with his cigarette. Romeo's first lines, which should be to Benvolio, are done as voice over as he sits by himself. Montague (Brian Dennehy), his wife and Benvolio have their conversation in the back of a limo, and then Benvolio gets out to talk to Romeo on the beach. A building at the beach is labeled "Globe Theatre," and it includes a pool hall, which is where Romeo and Benvolio go to continue their conversation about Rosaline. On television is announced the Capulet party, including a list of the guests, so there is no illiterate servant in this production. Lady Capulet is portrayed as a vain, annoying woman. Claire Danes is older than 13, and all references to her exact age are cut from her first scene. Mercutio is introduced in drag, as the party is a costume party. During his Mab speech, he goes a bit mad, shouting - and Romeo calms him. There is actually a lot of shouting in this production - it gets to be a bit much. Romeo takes a pill before going into the party - an hallucinogen? - and then whispers, "Thy drugs are quick," which of course is a line from the end of the play. But should Romeo be tripping at this party? Shouldn't love, or infatuation, be the thing to alter his senses? The fish tank is beautiful, and it is through the tank that Romeo first spies Juliet. It's actually a beautiful moment. Claire Danes is dressed as an angel. Romeo has removed his mask, so Tybalt (dressed as the devil - not too subtle there) recognizes him by face, not by voice. Nurse tells Juliet Romeo's name without Juliet asking her. Romeo jumps out of the car and runs back to the Capulet mansion, with Mercutio yelling after him his saucy comments about Rosaline. Then they drive off without him. The balcony scene has an interesting twist. Romeo looks to the room he thinks is Juliet's, and says his "What light through yonder window breaks" speech. But when the window opens, it's the Nurse who appears. And then Juliet appears at ground level, leading Romeo to then say, "It is my lady! O it is my love!" He hides from her and listens to her speak as she walks to the pool. I love Claire Danes' delivery of "nor any other part belonging to a man." In this production, Juliet says "By any other word would smell as sweet." Romeo sneaks up behind her, and when he answers her, she is startled, and they both fall into the pool. The rest of the scene is done in the pool, which sounds cheesy, but works. Both Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio are wonderful. Security cameras and guards pose a real threat to Romeo in this scene. Juliet goes back to the balcony near the end of the scene after Nurse calls to her, and so he does climb up a bit. Juliet has the "parting is such sweet sorrow" line, and it's the last line of the scene. Pete Postlethwaite plays Friar Lawrence, who is called Father Laurence in this version. He's shirtless in his first scene, and there are young altar boys behind him (hinting at something completely inappropriate for the character), and he has a big cross tattoo on his back. In the church, the choir sings "When Doves Cry." Romeo actually does stumble in this production, leading Father Laurence to give his "Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast" line. There's a joke reference to another play - a sign saying "The Merchant Of Verona Beach" (because the setting is very much like Venice Beach). Mercutio has his lines about the "punto reverso," but as he is holding a gun, he can't really demonstrate the moves. Because the Nurse knows who Romeo is, she doesn't have the lines asking for him. She starts right in with "I desire some confidence with you." Instead of "Bid her devise some means to come to shrift," Romeo says, "Bid her to come to confession." We get the wedding scene, and Nurse is present. Father Laurence starts with "These violent delights" (lines which in the play are spoken only to Romeo before Juliet arrives). Tybalt is played as a thorough villain in this production, and attacks Romeo even after Romeo says "be satisfied." So Tybalt is one hundred percent at fault for the brawl rather than Mercutio. Mercutio dies in Romeo's arms rather than off stage. So then Romeo goes chasing after Tybalt. But instead of going straight into their fight, the film cuts to Juliet on her bed saying, "Come, gentle night." Then it cuts to Romeo chasing Tybalt in his car. Tybalt crashes, and then they fight in the street. Romeo shoots Tybalt. It is Balthasar, not Benvolio, who says, "Romeo, stand not amazed." After Romeo is banished, the film goes into Act III Scene iii, and the Nurse arrives at Father Laurence's cell. But we miss the dialogue between Nurse and Juliet from Scene ii. The ring Nurse gives Romeo from Juliet is inscribed "I love thee." Then we go back to Scene ii for some of Juliet's lines, starting with "O God! Did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood" - though instead of to Nurse, she speaks these lines to a religious shrine. That leads right into Scene iv, the scene with Paris that is often cut from film versions. We then go back to Juliet in her room, and Romeo enters (something that is not shown in the play). It then goes back to Scene iv, when Capulet tells his wife to tell Juliet she'll be married to Paris. He says the "ere you go to bed" line, which then leads us to wonder if she'll catch Romeo in bed with Juliet. But it then cuts to morning, with Romeo and Juliet waking (and Balthasar waiting in the car outside). Juliet's reaction to Romeo's "come death, and welcome - Juliet wills it so" is laughter, which is not a great choice. There is also no strong reaction to Nurse's betrayal, and that's usually a fantastic moment. But Claire's delivery of "Thou hast comforted me marvelous much" is pretty good. In Act IV Scene i Juliet holds a gun to her head instead of a knife to her chest. She then turns the gun on Father Laurence, which leads to him helping her. Father Laurence sends the letter to Romeo by mail. Juliet says "Farewell. God knows when we shall meet again" to her mother rather than after her mother has left the room. (Nurse is not in that scene in this production.) Most of Juliet's speech before drinking the potion is cut. We don't see the Nurse finding her. All of that is cut, as are her parents' reactions, which is a shame. We really need to see her father there, because that's the moment that we actually feel for him. But instead, the scene opens with Father Laurence removing the vial. We get the funeral scene, and see Balthasar enter. Father Laurence sees him, and looks worried, but can't catch him before he runs out. Act V Scene i, Romeo's speech is done as voice over. Then we see Balthasar's car rushing past the mail truck on its way to Romeo's trailer (a scene similar to the one in Zeffirelli's production). Father Laurence calls the post office, learns that Romeo hasn't received the letter. Romeo's threats to Balthasar are cut. Suddenly there are cops on Romeo's trail, which is fairly ridiculous. There is even a helicopter following him (like in Goodfellas). The cops arrive at the church as Romeo does. So he takes a hostage, and shouts to the cops (instead of to Paris), "Tempt not a desperate man." Paris is not in this scene, so he is not killed. Romeo then locks himself inside the church. Juliet looks great lying on the altar surrounded by dozens of candles. As it's the church and not the crypt, Tybalt's body is not there. Juliet moves slightly, but Romeo doesn't see it, which is great. It makes the scene even more intense. She opens her eyes before he drinks the vial, but he is looking up and so doesn't see that either. Her hand reaches his face just after he's swallowed the poison, but before he's died. So we see on his face that he realizes his mistake. And of course he doesn't say "thy drugs are quick" (but he said it in that earlier scene). It's an interesting change. But wouldn't Juliet be confused as to why he's swallowed poison? After all, Father Laurence is not there to tell her their plans have been thwarted. It is a gun, not a dagger, so Juliet doesn't say those lines, but rather just puts it against her head and fires. The Prince still says his line about losing "a brace of kinsmen," but it doesn't make any sense, as Paris is still alive. The last lines of the play are spoken by the news reporter on a television rather than by the Prince. (time: 120 minutes)

- My Shakespeare (2005) with Paterson Joseph, Baz Luhrmann, Jonathan Taylor, Muska Khpal; directed by Michael Waldman. This documentary follows actor Paterson Joseph as he directs a production of Romeo And Juliet using non-actors from the poor neighborhood where he grew up. Film director Baz Luhrmann serves as a mentor to Paterson, though only by remote hook-up. We see the casting process, and learn a bit about each of the actors who get cast. For example, Muska Khpal, who plays Juliet, is from Afghanistan and wants to become a doctor. (During the first section - the casting process - there is a lot of annoying music playing.) Paterson has lots of trouble at first. The actor who plays Benvolio is constantly late. And all of the actors have trouble tapping into their emotions. The actors at first basically all say they don't understand any of it. It's interesting that when it comes to the fights, their personal experiences play a large part. Jonathan Taylor, who plays Romeo, has actually been stabbed in a fight. They have an easier time with anger than with love. As a documentary, this film fails to answer some basic questions. Like, how did Baz Luhrmann become involved? Also, a fight choreographer and a vocal coach are brought in. Were they paid? Were any of the actors paid? How were they able to rent the theatre? But once the film got going, it managed to pull me in emotionally, and I actually was anxious for them as it got down to the final rehearsals. Paterson has the actors do an emotional workshop to help them, because these folks are used to hiding emotion. He also takes the leads to a graveyard to rehearse the death scene. Some of the cast goes to the new Globe Theatre, and this trip clearly inspires them - it's actually a great scene. And we do see sections of the actual performance, as well as some of the celebration afterwards. So though this film has a shaky beginning, and doesn't provide some basic information, it ends up being quite satisfying. I came to care about these people. (time: 90 minutes)

- Romeo And Juliet Get Married (2005) with Luana Piovani, Luis Gustavo, Marco Ricca; directed by Bruno Barreto. This loose adaptation of Romeo And Juliet turns the Capulets and Montagues into fans of rival soccer teams in Brazil. Juliet is a fan of the Palmeiras team, and at a soccer match she notices Romeo, who is leading the fans of the Corinthians in a cheer. In this version, they are not teenagers - Juliet is 25, while Romeo is 40. Juliet is also the coach of a women's soccer team, until that program is canceled. She feels betrayed by her father, who is on the board, but abstained from voting. During the argument, a spark from the fire hits her eye, so she goes to the doctor, who of course turns out to be Romeo. And they fall in love. This is an adaptation that is aware of Shakespeare. On their first date Juliet says, "My name has nothing to do with Shakespeare. It was my dad's way of paying homage." Then, "Juliet was because of two Palmeiras players." Romeo lies, saying he is a fan of Palmeiras. They go to bed, but apparently her Palmeiras bedspread causes him to be impotent. But Juliet of course knows he's a Corinthians fan, and brings him a Corinthians condom, and then they're able to have sex. Juliet's father is an insane Palmeiras fan, so they decide to keep it a secret from him, telling him that Romeo is a Palmeiras fan. Juliet's mother met him years ago, and remembers him to be a Corinthians fan, but she keeps it a secret from her husband, much in the way that Nurse keeps Juliet's love from both parents in the play. But of course the lie grows bigger, and Juliet's father takes Romeo to Tokyo to attend a Palmeiras game. And when he learns the truth about Romeo, he feels betrayed, and becomes enraged. At the end, Romeo and Juliet do get married, with Palmeiras fans on one side of the aisle, and Corinthians fans on the other. The priest does a variation of the prologue during the ceremony, saying, "Two households, both alike in dignity, in the fair metopolis of Sao Paulo. Where I have the honor of celebrating a wedding that began from an ancient grudge and comes to an end this sunny afternoon." (time: 93 minutes)

- Romeo & Juliet: A Monkey's Tale (2005) directed by Karina Holden. This very odd little film stars two monkeys as the "star-crossed lovers." And no, this is not a cartoon. In Lopburi in Thailand, there are thousands of monkeys. They are divided into two rival groups - the Temple Troop and The Market Monkeys. The Temple Troop live in a temple. The Market Monkeys live across the road in the marketplace. This film is narrated by a Temple monkey called Tybalt, Juliet's cousin (he refers to her as "a pretty piece of flesh," which just feels weird). In describing the Market Monkeys, our narrator says, "Like hooligans with their heckling ways, they did bite their thumbs at us." And sure enough, we see a shot of a monkey with his fingers in his mouth, though not actually doing the thumb-biting gesture. Romeo is described as the leader of the Market Monkeys. The narrator does use some of Shakespeare's text. For example, he says, "Peace - I hate the word." Anyway, during Thailand's Festival Of Lights, Romeo first sees Juliet, and they fall in love. Romeo crosses the road (breaking the rule) and infiltrates the temple to be with Juliet. The next day Juliet sees that Romeo is a thief and a villain - he leaps up to steal food from a pedestrian, and the narrator says, "her only love sprung from her only hate." Days pass without others noticing their relationship (thus straying from the play a bit). There is a shot of them looking at fish in an aquarium, a reference to Baz Luhrmann's film. But of course eventually Romeo is discovered in the temple, and the Temple Troop attack him, driving him back across the road. There is then a shot of Romeo seated on a motorcycle. Juliet goes to visit him, and there are shots of the two kissing and romping, with soft piano music playing. But the Market Monkeys spot her and attack, driving her back to the temple. This leads to a war between the two groups of monkeys. There are amazing shots of dozens of monkeys crossing the street and climbing buildings. Some are wounded in the battle, but none are killed. No mention of a Mercutio, and clearly Tybalt is fine, as he is still narrating. Romeo is outcast by his own family, because as the narrator says, "The Market Monkeys no longer wanted a trouble maker amongst them." But I thought the whole gang were trouble makers. Oh well. As Tybalt says, "Romeo was fortune's fool." Romeo is banished, so he gets on a train. Seriously. And then bad karma settles on both groups. The narrator says, "A plague descended on our houses." The Market Monkeys become sick. The Temple Troop's babies die. Tybalt tells us, "Juliet blamed herself, and frankly she was right." Ouch. She pines for Romeo. And Tybalt says, "I also wondered wherefore art Romeo, that mischief-maker." Wrong. Once again, "wherefore" means "why," not "where." I shouldn't have been surprised by this error, since on the back of the DVD case it says, "Oh, monkey, monkey, wherefore art thou monkey?" And yes, a lot of the narration is stupid, and includes grammatical errors. But this whole thing is gloriously ridiculous. Anyway, humans dress as monkeys in a parade to end the feud between the monkey clans. (What?) They present a banquet for the monkeys at the temple, and the Market Monkeys are also invited, thus uniting the two clans. During the party, Juliet leaves in the back of a pickup truck to go find Romeo. And Tybalt says, "We never heard from either of them again." This film really needs a Friar Lawrence monkey and a sleeping potion, but it's still sort of wonderful. (time: 43 minutes)

- Gnomio & Juliet (2011) with James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Matt Lucas, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ashley Jensen; directed by Kelly Asbury. This animated film features the tale of Romeo And Juliet as portrayed by garden gnomes and other lawn ornaments. It begins, however, at a theatre, with the curtain closed. A gnome comes out onto the stage and says, "The story you are about to see has been told before. A lot. And now we are going to tell it again, but different. It's about two star-crossed lovers kept apart by a big feud." Anyway, the gnome goes into the prologue which he first refers to as "a long, boring prologue." He only gets as far as "loins of these two foes." The Capulets and Montagues live in houses right next to each other on Verona Drive. The blue house, owned by Miss Montague, is 2B Verona Dr., and the red house, owned by Mr. Capulet, is not 2B (the "2B" being crossed out). There are little references to Shakespeare's other plays throughout this film. The other thing that happens throughout the film is instrumental versions of Elton John songs. The first being "Crocodile Rock." Romeo says, "Red. I hate the word," a play on Tybalt's "What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word." Gnomeo and Tybalt, who is played as a villain in this production, race lawn mowers down an alley to Elton John's "Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting." Juliet tries to sneak out of red garden to get a special flower, so she'll be taken seriously. When she opens the gate, a dog is on the other side. So she slams it shut, shouting, "Out, out." A man in the distance finished the line for her: "Damn Spot, over here, boy." Get it? (Macbeth, Act V, Scene 1.) Meanwhile Gnomeo is sneaking into red garden to get revenge because Tybalt apparently cheated during the race. Anyway, he and Juliet end up grabbing the flower at the same time, and look into each other's eyes, all done to a relatively annoying pop song, "Hello, Hello" (which is sung by Elton John and Lady Gaga - ugh). They realize they're from opposing houses. A frog named Nanette is the closest thing to Nurse (Nanette - Nanny - Nurse). Nanette tells Juliet, "It's a doomed love, and that's the best kind." Then we get the balcony scene, which begins with Juliet saying, "Oh Gnomeo, Gnomeo, are we really doomed, Gnomeo, to never see each other again? Why must you wear a blue hat?" Gnomeo hides under water in the pool (as Leonardo DiCaprio does in the Baz Luhrmann film). Nanette leads Gnomeo out through the gate, and it is she who says, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." (But before that she sort of quotes from Hamlet: "Good night, sweet Prince, and flights of angels, or pigeons or sparrows or whatever.") But Gnomeo and Juliet sneak another moment together, and make plans to meet the next day, "Back in the old Lawrence place." Then Gnomeo says, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." The humans who own the gnomes are also at war, and there is a seriously funny bit when Miss Montague watches a commercial for a new lawnmower (if you watch this on DVD, pause it so you can read the fine print). Then there is a silly "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" musical montage. Juliet's dad sets Juliet up with Paris, but Juliet quickly escapes for her rendezvous with Gnomeo. There is an annoying flamingo (played by Jim Cummings - but think Robin Williams as the genie in Aladdin). The flamingo says, about dandelions, "A weed by any other name is still a weed." As annoying as the flamingo is, we then get a scene where Paris serenades Juliet with a bastardization of Elton John's "Your Song": "It's a little bit runny, this pesticide/I used it all up/Some insects have died." Then it actually goes into Elton John singing the proper song. Gnomeo and Juliet go into some little shack. Tacked to its wall is a ticket to As You Like It from 1986. There is another terrible Elton John song about love called "Love Builds A Garden," which plays during a flashback of the flamingo's love being taken away in a moving truck. The moving company, by the way, is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Movers. The character Benny is a combination of Benvolio and Mercutio, because it is he who is attacked by Tybalt. Benny's large hat is cut off. Gnomeo attacks Tybalt, and Tybalt dies crashing into a wall. Gnomeo is apparently killed, driven over by a truck in the street - but it turns out to be a blue teapot in the street. The truck says, "Tempest Teapots." Gnomeo is hanging onto the bottom of the truck. Later, a double decker bus says, "Stratford Upon Avon." Gnomeo ends up at a statue of William Shakespeare. At the base it says, "William Shakespeare 1564 - 1616 Or Thereabouts." Why "thereabouts"? Gnomeo speaks to Shakespeare's statue, telling him what's happened, and Shakespeare tells Gnomeo the end of his play, in which they both die. That scene is kind of great, partially because Shakespeare is played by Patrick Stewart. Gnomeo's mom says, "Unleash the dogs of war," a variation on "Let slip the dogs of war" from Act III Scene i of Julius Caesar. She is referring to the giant lawn mower in this case. It appears that Gnomeo and Juliet die in the destruction and Shakespeare's statue says, "Told you so." Juliet's dad and Gnomeo's mom shake hands, ending the feud. But of course Gnomeo and Juliet are okay, while an instrumental version of "Your Song" plays. Then it ends with a version of "Crocodile Rock" in which the lyric is changed to "I remember when rock was young/Gnomeo and Juliet had so much fun." And the gnomes dance. Why? Well, Elton John was executive producer of the film. Maybe that's why. Anyway, this version is performed by Nelly Furtado and Elton John. It took seven people to write this screenplay, and another two who worked on the story. The Prince appears in one of the deleted scenes on the DVD. There is also a reference to Mantua. In another deleted scene, Juliet agrees to wed Paris and her dad says he needs a friar gnome. (time 84 minutes)

Related Films

- A Courtyard In Verona (2010) This short "featurette" includes interviews with Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman, authors of the book Letters To Juliet, and is about the courtyard where people leave letters to the fictional character of Juliet. This is a special feature on the DVD for the film Letters To Juliet. (time: 6 minutes)
- Letters To Juliet (2010) with Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Egan, Gael Garcia Bernal; directed by Gary Winick. This film stars Amanda Seyfried as a fact-checker for The New Yorker who is going to Verona with Victor, her fiance, for a pre-honeymoon, and so that he can meet with suppliers for the restaurant he's going to open in New York. Sophie wants to be a writer, not a fact-checker. In the first scene in Verona, Sophie is walking back to the hotel, where Victor is on the balcony. When he sees her, he calls down, "Sophia! Sophia! Wherefore art thou, my sweet Sophia?" So put this film in with all the others that don't know the meaning of the word "wherefore." Of course, in this one, they clearly don't think it means "where" either, because he is saying the line to her. So it really just doesn't make any sense at all. Anyway, Victor is busy meeting suppliers, so Sophie goes to Casa di Giulietta. And that scene is great. They show all the things that people actually do there - standing on the balcony, affixing letters to the wall, rubbing the right breast of the Juliet statue. Women are writing letters in the courtyard, crying. Sophie stays, and toward the end of the day, a woman comes and collects the letters. Sophie follows her, and the woman is of course one of the secretaries of Juliet, the women who respond to the letters. So Sophie helps with the letters, and finds behind a loose brick an old letter written fifty years ago by a woman named Claire, a letter that had never been answered. So Sophie answers that letter. And a week letter Sophie is still there, writing. And Claire's grandson, Charlie, confronts her, saying Claire is in town. So she follows him to meet her. Claire has come to find Lorenzo, the man she wrote about in the letter. Sophie joins them on their journey to find Lorenzo. There are 74 Lorenzos in the general area. Victor is busy at wine auctions, and conveniently keeps needing more time, so Sophie can go on this adventure. And Sophie and Charlie become attracted to one another. At one point, Sophie says to Charlie, "Do you know what you are? You are the Montagues and the Capulets." Charlie responds, "You mean... Well, at least I'm not Romeo." That of course doesn't really make sense, as Romeo is a Montague. But Sophie says, "That's the understatement of the century." Charlie says, "No, no, no, because you see, if I found the love of my life, I wouldn't stand there like an idiot whispering in a garden. I would just grab her from that blasted balcony and be done with it." The movie goes exactly where you expect to. And at the end we get the balcony scene, sort of. This film mentions William Shakespeare in an early scene. The secretaries of Juliet accuse Charlie of being a bit of a cold fish, as he's an English man, and Charlie reminds them that it was William Shakespeare, an English man, who wrote Romeo And Juliet. (time: 105 minutes)
- Romeo & Juliet: A Family Feud (2005) with Christopher Reame, David Robb; directed by Jeff Smart. Actors Christopher Reame and David Robb talk about their performances in the 1976 production of Romeo And Juliet.
- Shakespeare In Love (1998) with Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench; directed by John Madden. This film, which takes place in 1593, tells the tale of how William Shakespeare (played by Joseph Fiennes) came to write Romeo And Juliet. There is a joke during the opening credits in which Shakespeare is practicing signing his name, using different spellings - because all of the surviving signatures do have different spellings. While this film is mostly about Romeo And Juliet, there are several references to The Two Gentlemen Of Verona and Twelfth Night (and one reference to Henry The Sixth). The first comes when Shakespeare says to Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush), "Half of what you owe me - I'm still due for one gentleman of Verona." We see in this film how Shakespeare gets his inspiration, how he influenced by everything. For example, in an early scene he passes a street preacher who is railing against the threatres. The preacher says, "And the Rose smells just as rank by any name. I say, a plague on both their houses!" The Rose of course is one of the theatres, and "both their houses" refers to the two theatres. Shakespeare is seeking his muse, feeling that he can no longer write (which is a bit weird, because Romeo And Juliet is still relatively early in his career). Another early scene shows Burbage and his company performing The Two Gentlemen Of Verona for the Queen. We see Valentine give the first line of the play, and then later we see the bit with the dog, and then a little of Act III Scene i ("What light is light, if Sylvia be not seen?/What joy is joy, if Sylvia be not by?"). It is then that we are introduced to Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is in the audience, mouthing the words. Viola then talks about that play to her Nurse (Imelda Staunton). Shakespeare wants Rosaline to be his muse, until later when he meets Viola (as in Romeo And Juliet when Romeo meets Juliet). Shakespeare also gets some of his inspiration from Marlowe. When Viola dresses as a boy, calling herself Thomas Kent, she auditions with a speech from The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (that same speech from Act III Scene i). Shakespeare, seeking Thomas Kent, sneaks into a party at Viola's house and spots Viola (now dressed as a woman), and falls for her. We get a version of the balcony scene then when Viola steps out and says, "Romeo, Romeo. A young man of Verona. A comedy by William Shakespeare." Shakespeare is below, in the garden. Nurse calls to Viola. She tells Shakespeare, "I will come again." Shakespeare says, "I am fortune's fool." When Shakespeare and Viola make love, her Nurse keeps it secret, just as Nurse does in the play. And when they wake, they do a variation of Act III Scene v. There is a scene where Viola thinks Shakespeare is dead, but it turns out to be Marlowe (like the scene in Romeo And Juliet in which Juliet believes Romeo to be dead when it is in fact Tybalt who is dead). Toward the end of the film, we see a good deal of the play Romeo And Juliet. Oddly, the Friar is not in the death scene when Juliet awakes. And the film ends with Shakespeare beginning to write Twelfth Night. (time:122 minutes)

Films With References To This Play

- Beautiful Girls (1996) In this wonderful film directed by Ted Demme, Timothy Hutton plays Willie, who has returned home for his high school reunion. Natalie Portman plays Marty, the 13-year-old girl who lives next door. In an iceskating scene, Marty flirts with Willie. Willie says they have a bit of an age problem. Marty says, "We're as star-crossed as Romeo and Juliet. It's a tragedy of Elizabethan proportions." Willie then recites, "What light through yonder window breaks? Tis the east and Juliet is the sun." To which Marty replies, "And the colored girls go do do-do do-do." Then in a later scene, Willie sees her through his window. So he opens it and calls down to her, "Hey." She looks up and responds, "Romeo And Juliet, the dyslexic version."
- Came The Brawn (1938) a Little Rascals short film directed by Gordon Douglas. Alfalfa is trying to come up with someone to play the Masked Marvel, someone he can beat in the wrestling ring. In walks Waldo, a nerdy kid, reading aloud from Julius Caesar. From Act III Scene ii he reads, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." He then trips over a box. Then, in a later scene, the nerdy kid - now dressed as the Masked Marvel - is reading aloud from Hamlet. He only manages to say, "Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer -" before Butch interrupts him, saying, "All right, Shakespeare, can the chatter and hand over that wrestling suit." And then during the wrestling match, Waldo steps out, reading aloud from Romeo And Juliet. He says, "Good night. Good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I'll say good night till it be morrow" (from Act II Scene i). And then, if that weren't enough, the end of the short finds Waldo wooing Darla with these words from Romeo And Juliet: "Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand that I might touch that cheek." Darla chooses him over Alfalfa, and tells him to continue. As they exit, he says, "Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear..." (also from Romeo And Juliet).
- Decadent Evil (2005) with Phil Fondacaro, Jill Michelle; directed by Charles Band. This silly horror film has one Shakespeare reference. Ivan says, "I hate to break it to you, Romeo. I think your little Juliet's a vampire."
- Grease (1978) with John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing; directed by Randal Kleiser. The best musical ever made of course has a reference to Romeo And Juliet. While the girls are having a sleepover, the guys pull up in their new car. "Hey, Putzie, why don't you call her?" And so he stands up in the car, and calls, "Oh, Sandy. Wherefore art thou, Sandy?" And that's it. (time 110 minutes)
- Harold And Maude (1971) with Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles, Ellen Geer; written by Colin Higgins; directed by Hal Ashby. My favorite film has a wonderful Romeo And Juliet reference. Harold's mother has arranged some dates for him through a computer dating service. He has scared the first two away. The third is an actress named Sunshine Dore (played by Ellen Geer). Harold (Bud Cort) stages a hari-kari scene in front of her. But being an actress, she doesn't buy it for a moment. She's not scared off like the other girls. She says, "Oh, Harold. Oh, that was marvelous. It had the ring of truth." She then takes off her hat and says, "I played Juliet in the Sunshine Playhouse. Louie thought it was my best performance." She then goes into actor mode. She puts her hat upside down next to Harold's head, and says, "What's here?" She picks up the hat, and continues: "A cup, closed in my true love's hand?" She lifts the hat to her face and sniffs it. "Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end." At that point, Harold gies up the act of being dead, and turns his head toward her. Sunshine picks up the knife Harold had used and says, "O happy dagger!" She tests it on her palm, making certain that it is fake, and repeats, "O happy dagger." She touches her chest and says, "This is thy sheath. There rest." (Yes, she says "rest," not "rust." It is also "rest" in the novel.) She stabs herself, saying, "And let me die." She falls to the floor. Harold picks up the knife and stands, just as his mother enters the room. She sees Sunshine on the floor, apparently dead, and exclaims, "Harold, that was your last date." And that's the end of the scene. Every time I watch this film, I wonder what happened next. How did he get rid of her? The novel ends the scene there as well, but includes more from Romeo And Juliet, including Sunshine saying, "Drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after?" And in the novel, it's when she goes to kiss him to get a drop of poison from his lips that Harold gets up. (time: 91 minutes)
- Master Will Shakespeare (1936) directed by Jacques Tourneur. This short film tells the tale of William Shakespeare moving to London and beginning his career in the theatre. Most of it is narrated. But then there is a scene where Shakespeare is in a tavern, reciting his own lines from near the end of The Tragedy Of Romeo And Juliet to his glass. This short also includes a bit of the balcony scene from the 1936 production with Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer. (time: 10 minutes)
- Stage Door Canteen (1943) with Cheryl Walker, William Terry, Marjorie Riordan, Katharine Cornell, Katharine Hepburn; directed by Frank Borzage. This odd bit of wartime propaganda has a nice long Romeo And Juliet sequence. As the soldiers are in line, getting food, one of them says, "You're Katharine Cornell, aren't you?" Katharine replies, "Yes. How'd you know?" He says, "Oh, our dramatic coach at school has your picture. He said we hadn't lived until we'd seen you play Juliet. See, we put it on, and I was Romeo." Katharine says, "You were? What scene did you like best?" The soldier says, "You remember where Romeo swears by the moon?" Katharine nods, and he launches into the scene. "Lady by yonder blessed moon I swear/That tips with silver all these fruit tree tops." Katharine Cornell takes the part of Juliet and responds, "O swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon/That monthly changes in her circled orb/Lest thy love prove likewise variable." The soldier asks, "What shall I swear by?" She replies, "Do not swear at all./Or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self/Which is the god of my idolatry/And I'll believe thee." He says, "If my heart's dear love-" Katharine says, "No, do not swear. Although I joy in thee/I have no joy in this contract tonight/It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden/Too like the lightning that doth cease to be/Ere one could say it lightens. Sweet, good night." She then skips to the end of the scene, saying, "Parting is such sweet sorrow/That I shall say good night till it be morrow." It's a really sweet moment, broken up by another soldier saying, "Hey, what's holding up the line?" Katharine says, "A little unrationed ham being served. You're holding up the works, Romeo." She hands him an orange. He tells her, "I'll never eat this orange, Juliet. I'll just keep it to remember." Later, in the barracks, he says, "Some party, wasn't it, Dakota?" Dakota replies, "Sure was, Romeo." Katharine Cornell played Juliet on Broadway in 1934, and also toured with the play. (time: 130 minutes)
- Student Bodies (1981) with Kristen Riter, Matt Goldsby; directed by Mickey Rose. This horror comedy has a reference to Romeo And Juliet. The killer interrupts the movie to ask the audience, "Who could I be?" He goes through a list of possible suspects including, "Nurse Krud and Ms. Van Dyke. What's in a name? Everything." A reference, of course, to Juliet's line in the balcony scene. (time: 86 minutes)
- Wax Works (1934) In this Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cartoon,Oswald finds a baby on his doorstep and reluctantly takes him in. In the middle of the night the baby has fun with wax statues. And we get a short variation of the balcony scene from Romeo And Juliet. Romeo sings, "Oh my Juliet, where are you?" Juliet appears on the balcony, and says, "I'm here, my lover. Yoo-hoo!" Romeo sings, "Shall I croon beneath this moon?" He climbs the ladder to Juliet, but is pushed off the ladder by Groucho Marx. Groucho then grabs Juliet and says to Romeo, "Not tonight, Romeo." (time: 9 minutes)

Next month is Julius Caesar.

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