A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Title: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Year: 1935
Length: 142 minutes
Directors: William Dieterle & Max Reinhardt
Writer: William Shakespeare, adapted by Charles Kenyon & Mary C. McCall Jr.
Starring: Dick Powell, Ross Alexander, Olivia de Havilland, Jean Muir, James Cagney, Joe E. Brown, Victor Jory, Anita Louise, Mickey Rooney
Music: Felix Mendelssohn, adapted by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Distinctions: Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Editing; Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Assistant Director

My reaction
Synopsis: fairies mess with human lovers
How I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), two days ago
Concept: Indifferent. The trouble with a 1935 adaptation of Shakespeare is that half the fun I usually get from 1930s movies is from their time-capsule quality. There’s something about movies from that era, collectively, that just fascinates on a level completely separate from how the movie works artistically. The fact that it’s Shakespeare, and therefor has a screenplay that’s about as timeless as they come, pretty much negates that factor. And since I’m not a fan of this play to begin with (although it does offer some reasonable opportunities for humor), there’s not much for me here.
Story: Bad. Sorry, Bill, your story is stupid.
Characters: Good.
Dialog: Good. They actually cut some of the best lines – presumably based on the relative fame of the actors speaking them.
Pacing: Bad.  Very slow.
Cinematography: Good.
Special effects/design: Good. I would say great, if it weren’t for Bottom’s ass-head mask.
Acting: Terrible. Most of the cast is good, and a handful are awful. Whatever good acting there is doesn’t really matter, though, because Mickey Rooney’s performance is so obnoxious that the movie is almost unwatchable.
Music: Good. Great score, but I have to take a point off for Unnecessary Singing.
Subjective Rating: 5/10 (Indifferent). There are some nice visuals here and there, and a couple small laughs from Joe E. Brown, but otherwise there’s not really anything worth seeing.
Objective Rating: 2.1/4 (Okay).


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