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Unfortunately, Shakespeare's comedy 'As You Like It' has much of its comic aspects drained in this particular movie ver of the play, because of the sodden performances of a couple of players, Mackenzie Ward as Touchstone and Elizabeth Bergner as Rosalind.The part of the Fool was an necessary part of Shakespearean plays, delivering pointed messages in the guise of witty remarks and jests. In this film, Touchstone's lines are breezed through so quickly and leadenly that the messages are lost. Bergner's Rosalind, was far worse. Rosalind was supposed to be disguised as a youthful boy delivering acquired wisdom to men. I would have expected mainly a mock-serious performance, at most. Instead, Bergner performs Rosalind in a type of giddy glee throughout, which gotta have marred her delivery of lines through that toothy grin combined with her Austrian accent.Laurence Olivier, while performing in the more naturalistic method we would expect of a modern movie actor, seems at times as if he's trying to receive over with the entire thing, as might be expected if the rumors of artistic conflicts are true.Sophie Stewart as Celia delivers probably the truest performance. Henry Ainley, Felix Aylmer, Leon Quartermain, and Dorice Fordred give great performances as the two dukes, Jacques, and Audrey in minor parts. Peter Bull (the Russian ambassador from 'Dr. Strangelove') makes a very recognizable appearance in the second half.I feel I ought to comment on the many complaints about the 'staginess' of the diction. My opinion is that these complaints have mainly to do with a couple of minor characters (e.g., Charles the Wrestler). Hold in mind that this is 1936, when many scene and silent actors were still adapting to the motion picture. Many movies based on scene plays at that time appeared stagy, and many did even soon (consider 'A Long Day's Adventure Into Night' or 'A Streetcar Called Desire'). Several of Shakespeare's plays had been adapted to the sound motion picture by 1936. Slash them a tiny slack!
AS YOU LIKE IT is an odd duck among the major plays of Shakespeare that have been filmed. It is one of the three top romantic comedies (with MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and TWELFTH NIGHT) that Shakespeare wrote, but none of them have been favorites for movie (not like A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM). MUCH ADO recently was redone by Kenneth Branagh, but not as well received as his HAMLET and HENRY V. AS YOU LIKE IT was done a several times on television, but not as a movie - except for this 1936 version.AS YOU LIKE IT is set in the forest of Arden. Most of the characters are in hiding there or have been exiled there. The local Duke has been overthrown by his brother (Duke Frederick / Felix Aylmer) and exiled there. His courtiers followed. Lawrence Olivier is the son of a favourite of the old Duke, so he is not in favor with Aylmer. He is also finding life hard with his older brother Oliver (John Laurie), who is consumed with jealousy. So Orlando (Olivier)flees to save his own life, and is later at the court in the forest of Arden. The real Duke's daughter, Rosalind (Elisabeth Bergner), has also fled with her cousin Celia (Sophia Stewart), because Aylmer is unhappy at his niece's continuous appearance at the regular court.Rosalind (in the plot) pretends to be a young boy, who tries to teach Orlando what true love is. He is full of the courtly love that percolated in European intellectual circles at the time, and Rosalind slowly makes Orlando realize how it is artificial (listen to her dismiss the concept of dying over a broken heart). Slowly she makes Orlando a fit lover - a true lover - for herself in her genuine person.The forest becomes a zone where truth keeps emerging out of the trees and bushes. One of the old Duke's closest friends, Jacques, gives the most popular speech of the play, "the seven ages of man". In it he describes the seven various roles played by boys in life, from infancy to old age. Jacques is a melancholic figure, and he is balanced in the plot by Rosalind and Celia's servant, the fool Touchstone, who also demonstrates what makes a true lover in his simple dismissal of his rival William (Peter Bull, as a rather dumb rustic) over a shepherdess. Eventually even Oliver / Laurie ends up in the forest (Laurie is sent there because he is blamed for Duke Frederick's daughter's fleeing with Rosalind).A bare recital of the play's plot is not as nice as watching it. In truth, even with Bergner's accent, she gives one of the most charming performances in Shakespearean film. The personality that made her the leading actress in Austria and Germany carries well in her English films. Olivier, for an early film, does a nice job - his youth aiding the character's education in the plot, and his nice looks being shown to advantage. Aylmer, Laurie, Bull, Mackenzie Ward (Touchstone), and Leon Quartermain (Jacques) do the most with their parts. One wishes more of the enjoy had been included, but the reduced size is not a large trouble for the viewer. As an introduction to reading the play, and seeing a finished production, the 1936 movie is cute good.
Terrible Elizabeth Bergner, she's the daughter of a deposed Duke who's actually living in the Ardennes forest. She's living in the palace where her father's brother, the fresh Duke has kept her on as a companion for his daughter. But one fine day she catches sight of young Laurence Olivier and when he wins a wrestling match with an airplane spin the people in the WWE would envy, her eyes are for him only. Problem is, he's the son of a knight the actual Duke also didn't like. And Olivier has had a spat with his older brother. Off he goes to the woods. And Bergner follows him.Pretty later everybody's hanging out in the Ardennes and it's type of like Shakespeare's another forest story, A Midsummer Night's Dream with folks darting hither, thither and yon, the pursued becoming the pursuers and vice versa. Elizabeth Bergner who plays Rosalind charmingly albeit her Teutonic accent, requested Olivier to be opposite her as Orlando. What Bergner wanted, Bergner got as her husband Paul Czinner produced the film. According to the ebook The Movies of Laurence Olivier, Bergner and Olivier had some constructive differences and relations were a bit chilly on the set.This was the first time Olivier did Shakespeare for the screen or tv and the only time he did not have constructive control over what went out. He thought that the part of Orlando was as a dull romantic horse's patoot and not much should be done with it. When it came time to do Shakespeare again for the screen, Olivier would see it done right.Still and all As You Like It is a charming antique and any time you can see Olivier do Shakespeare is time well spent.
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