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A Midsummer Night's Dream

Released Oct 16, 1935 2h 12m Comedy List
92% Tomatometer 13 Reviews 62% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings In this classic screen adaptation of Shakespeare's fantastical play, the royal wedding plans of Theseus, the duke of Athens (Ian Hunter) and Hippolyta overlap with the antics of forest fairies, led by Oberon and Titania, and a ragtag troupe of actors. Meanwhile, young lovers, including Lysander (Dick Powell) and Hermia (Olivia de Havilland), deceive each other in amusing ways, and magic adds a mischievous element to this enchanted romantic comedy. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Buy Now

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Critics Reviews

View All (13) Critics Reviews
Matt Brunson Film Frenzy Shakespeare’s romp involving young lovers and forest fairies finds an appropriate outlet in a filmic take that employs classical music, elaborate ballets, and a cast mixing classically trained thespians with Hollywood hambones. Rated: 3/4 Feb 26, 2024 Full Review Pare Lorentz McCall's A fine, merry, lovely and melodious picture. Oct 30, 2023 Full Review Dennis Harvey 48 Hills This “merry carnival drama” is pretty loose Shakespeare (“Holy Zeus! It’s a busy night in Athens today!” one intertitle reads), but it does give good eye candy... Jul 18, 2023 Full Review Ann Ross Maclean's Magazine Everyone should see it, both those who admire and those who avoid Shakespeare. Both groups will find it beyond expectation. Oct 4, 2019 Full Review Quentin Curtis Independent on Sunday Respectful of the text, exquisitely designed and lustily played, it is a model Shakespeare adaptation. Dec 12, 2017 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Bold and impressive, Reinhardt's screen version of his famous Hollywood Bowl Shakespearean production was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Rated: B+ Feb 18, 2013 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Tic Toc M Cinematically beautiful. Olivia D'Havilland is fantastic. She had been in the stage version and was making her film debut. I hadn't realized how great of an actress she was right out of the gate. It wouldn't be a Shakespeare movie if there wasn't a cast member to laugh at, and we've got a great one here in Dick Powell! Dick Powell is in WAY over his head! To his credit, he was as aware of it as anybody; I was just reading that he begged to be let go from the movie. And his hilariously bad performance is only to Olivia D'Havilland's credit: working opposite him only makes HER acting look even better! She's supposed to be madly in love with him! Mickey Rooney had also been in the stage production and I was impressed by the long takes. This was a child actor and he's handling Shakespeare. The cinematics and the production design of the movie are the very best of 1930s Hollywood. Visually, I put it up there with Sunrise, March Of The Wooden Soliders, Wizard Of Oz and Cocteau's "Beauty And The Beast". Combining Shakespeare's play with Mendlessohn's ballet only makes this film even more beautiful. Whatever problems people have with this movie, they're insane. These artists bent over backwards to create a cinematic experience like no other. Instead of complaining of what's NOT there, look at was IS. A total accomplishment during a time sound hadn't even been around for ten years yet. One of the first major sound films was Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks doing "Taming Of The Shrew", a valiant effort. Looking at this film, made just six years later, shows how far Hollywood had come in the interim. A one-of-a-kind classic in the history of film, it doesn't matter what you think of Shakespeare or the play or what you expect out of productions of it. This is a fine piece of work, these artists left their mark on this play. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/29/23 Full Review Audience Member Compared to other efforts to bring Shakespeare to the screen in the '30s, this film has aged remarkably well. This is chiefly due to the efforts of James Cagney and Joe E. Brown who are as fresh and funny today as they were 70 years ago. All scenes involving Bottom and crew, despite being cut, re-arranged and ad-libbed upon are hilarious is a broad sort of way. The rest of the cast is, sadly, less inspired. Jean Muir as Helena and Victor Jory as Oberon deserve commendation; Olivia deHavilland, despite being artificial and mannered at times, brings a lot of life to Hermia. The rest are write-offs and Mickey Rooney delivers an agonizingly awful performance as Puck. When Puck brays more than Bottom does, you know something's wrong. Reinhart's approach to Shakespeare is almost Victorian. A lot of time is spent on pageantry, ballet numbers and musical interludes not contemplated by the original play. Some of the lines are sung, not spoken, which creates a very bizarre effect indeed. All of this is quite distracting and many modern viewers will lose patience. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member Hauntingly beautiful and profoundly obsessive. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review jordan m I did not enjoy watching this. It's not that they did a bad job making the movie, or that the acting was bad or anything like that because it wasn't. It's that A Midsummer Night's Dream is objectively not good cinematic material. Without the intimacy and prior knowledge that goes into watching this as a stage play and without an extremely lengthy running time it's just very difficult to get through the exposition and character development. This movie was extremely faithful to the source material, bordering on the unreasonable, and its running time went so long that they had to pad Mendelssohn's score made for the play, but it was so faithful that far too much screentime ended up devoted to the nothingburger of a play at the end, there were about 10 too many scenes of Rooney making that goofy laugh and most of the supporting cast seemed more concerned with nailing the Shakespearean diction instead of nailing their performances. The redeeming factor here was absolutely Cagney, particularly in his introductory scene as I have rarely witnessed an actor so thoroughly eclipse the rest of the cast in talent and magnetism. It's unfortunate he spent most of the movie with a donkey head. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review steve d Average version of an ok show. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Movie was way too long, I get that its based off Shakespeare but the beginning and the ending seemed unnecessary. The acting was pretty good and I thought that was Mickey Rourke and it was. He did a great job esp. I liked the woodland scenes, the ballet, the costumes, the fantasy nature of it, and the imagery there. The rest of film was forgettable and being that this isn't Shakespeare's best play meh. It wasnt a bad rendition necessarily but a boring play IMO. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/15/23 Full Review Read all reviews
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Movie Info

Synopsis In this classic screen adaptation of Shakespeare's fantastical play, the royal wedding plans of Theseus, the duke of Athens (Ian Hunter) and Hippolyta overlap with the antics of forest fairies, led by Oberon and Titania, and a ragtag troupe of actors. Meanwhile, young lovers, including Lysander (Dick Powell) and Hermia (Olivia de Havilland), deceive each other in amusing ways, and magic adds a mischievous element to this enchanted romantic comedy.
Director
William Dieterle, Max Reinhardt
Producer
Henry Blanke, Max Reinhardt
Screenwriter
Charles Kenyon, Mary C. McCall Jr., William Shakespeare
Distributor
MGM/UA Home Entertainment Inc., Warner Bros. Pictures, The Vitaphone Corporation
Production Co
Warner Brothers
Genre
Comedy
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Oct 16, 1935, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 1, 2009
Runtime
2h 12m
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