Tuesday, December 2, 2014


For the past few years I've been compiling a list of Shakespeare references in films and television programs. Some plays - such as Romeo And Juliet and Hamlet - are referred to often. Others, like Comedy Of Errors, are not. But here are a few references to The Comedy Of Errors.

Films With References To The Comedy Of Errors:

- Big Business  (1988) with Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Fred Ward, Edward Herrmann; directed by Jim Abrahams. This movie doesn’t actually contain references to The Comedy Of Errors, but was clearly inspired by the play. It features two set of twins that have been separated, and then much of the comedy revolves around mistaken identities, as no one realizes there are twins.
- The Comedy Of Terrors  (1963) with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Joyce Jameson, Basil Rathbone; directed by Jacques Tourneur.  The title of this horror-comedy is obviously a play on Shakespeare’s The Comedy Of Errors. (see also Macbeth)
- High School Big Shot (1958) with Tom Pittman, Virginia Aldridge, Howard Veit. The first scene after the opening credits is a classroom scene. On the blackboard behind the teacher, several of Shakespeare’s plays are listed, including The Comedy Of Errors. (see also Hamlet, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Macbeth, Shakespeare)

- Mary, Mary  (1963) with Barry Nelson, Debbie Reynolds, Michael Rennie; directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Bob (Barry Nelson) tells his ex-wife Mary (Debbie Reynolds): “You should have heard my various exchanges with Winston today. No, I’m glad you didn’t. Talk about a comedy of errors.” (see also Romeo And Juliet, sonnets)

Television Programs With References To This Play:
- Hart To Hart (1979-1984) with Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, Lionel Stander. In the third season episode “Hartless Hobby,” a man is trying to steal a stamp worth a million dollars. His henchmen continue to fail him, and he gets frustrated and tells them, “You two are a comedy of errors and the joke’s gone stale.”
- Slings & Arrows (2003-2006) with Paul Gross, Martha Burns, Stephen Ouimette. The show's title is obviously a reference to Hamlet, and while the first season focuses on a production of Hamlet, there are many references to other plays by Shakespeare, including The Comedy Of Errors. Actually, the reference is to a play based on The Comedy Of Errors. In the show's second episode, titled, "Geoffrey's Return," there is a funeral which is held at the theatre. One of the speakers at the funeral says, "Looks a bit like Act I of The Boys From Syracuse up here."

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