The Taming of The Shrew - Adaptations - Film


The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted for cinema many times. The earliest known adaptation is the eleven minute 1908 The Taming of the Shrew directed by D.W. Griffith and starring Arthur V. Johnson and Florence Lawrence. Also released in 1908 was the seven minute La bisbetica domata (La bisbetica domata was also the name under which the 1967 Franco Zeffirelli version would be released in Italy), directed by Azeglio Pineschi and Lamberto Pineschi. There is no known cast list for this film. The next production was the twelve minute 1911 silent version directed by F.R. Benson, and starring Benson himself and his wife Constance Benson. A filmed extract from Benson's Shakespeare Memorial Theatre production, the film presented a short pantomime version of the play, with pieces of Shakespeare's original text used as intertitles throughout. This film is now believed lost. Another silent version made in 1911 was the French production La mégère apprivoisée, directed by Henri Desfontaines and starring Romauld Joubé and Madeleine Barjac. A 1913 Italian version, the twenty-two minute La bisbetica domata, was directed by Arrigo Frusta and starred Eleuterio Rodolfi and Gigetta Morano. Another adaptation took place in 1915, directed by and starring Arthur Backner. The scene where Petruchio and Katherina first meet was shot using a primitive sound process known as Voxograph, where the actors spoke the complete text during filming. Then, when the film was played at the theatre, "the same actors, one at each side of the screen but unseen, repeated the words in what was supposed to be synchronisation. It was expected that the operator, after rehearsal, would be able to project the film so that picture and voice would jibe."

The first American cinematic adaptation of the play was the 1915 film The Iron Strain (released in the UK in 1917 under the title The Modern Taming of the Shrew). Written by C. Gardner Sullivan and directed by Reginald Barker, the film tells of the love affair between high society girl Octavia van Ness (Enid Markey) and the loutish Chuck Hemingway (Dustin Farnum). Octavia lives in New York with her grandfather (Charles K. French), a retired mining entrepreneur, but fearing that she is not getting enough real life experience, he sends her to Alaska. There she meets Hemingway, a man unconcerned with social niceties. She instantly dislikes him, but he decides he is going to woo her, simply because it seems impossible he would be able to do so. Octavia believes Hemingway is her social inferior and will not have anything to do with him. But with the grandfather's blessing, Hemingway kidnaps and forcibly marries Octavia. They maintain a chaste relationship with Octavia reluctantly keeping house for Hemingway, until he becomes attracted to cabaret star Kitty Molloy (Louise Glaum). Octavia finds herself becoming jealous and realises that she loved him all along. She successfully woos him away from Kitty, and at the end of the film, it is revealed that he is actually a wealthy prospector and very much of her class. The film features no intertitles from the play text, although it is credited as being based on Shakespeare's play.

Another loose silent American adaptation came in 1919, under the title Impossible Catherine. Written by Frank S. Beresford and directed by John B. O'Brien, the film tells the story of John Henry Jackson (William B. Davidson) and Catherine Kimberly (Virginia Pearson). Catherine is the daughter of a wealthy banker but she is much too wild for him to control. At a Yale University dinner, she meets Jackson, who, having just read The Taming of the Shrew, decides that he can tame her. Imprisoned by him on his aeroplane, she eventually agrees to marry him, and which point he abducts her and takes her to a remote log cabin where he imposes domestic duties on her. Distraught at her situation, Catherine hires a local man to attack Jackson so she can escape, but the man is a friend of Jackson's and instead he starts to beat Catherine. At this point, Jackson comes to her aid, and is wounded when saving her. Upon learning he put himself at risk for her, Catherine realises she has fallen in love with him, and they happily return to the cabin together.

The next significant film version was the twenty-two minute silent version made in 1923. Directed by Edwin J. Collins, adapted by Eliot Stannard, and starring Lauderdale Maitland and Dacia Deane, it was one of a series of forty minute adaptations of classic texts released under the banner Gems of Literature. Only the second half of the film survives, and the final scene is incomplete as a result of print damage.

The first sound version on film is the sixty-eight minute 1929 film The Taming of the Shrew starring Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and adapted and directed by Sam Taylor. This version was simultaneously shot as a silent film, and, depending on whether a given theatre was equipped to screen sound films, was released both as a "talkie" and a silent. It is primarily known for how Pickford delivers Katherina's last speech. As she moves though the litany of reasons why a woman should obey her husband, she faces the camera and winks toward Bianca (Dorothea Jordan), unseen by Petruchio. Bianca smiles in silent communication with Katherina, thus acknowledging that Katherina has not been tamed at all. Pickford and Fairbanks' marriage was breaking down even before filming began, and animosity between the couple increased during filming. In later years, Pickford stated that working on the film was the worst experience of her life, although she also acknowledged that Fairbanks' performance was one of his best. After many years out of circulation, the film was re-released in 1966 in a new cut supervised by Pickford herself. New sound effects were added throughout, much of the voice dubbing was enhanced with newly available technology, and seven minutes were cut from the initial print. This re-released version is the only version now available on DVD or VHS.

The 1967 The Taming of the Shrew directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton is the most widely seen version of the play. This version omits the Induction and heavily cuts the Bianca subplot, spending much more time with Petruchio and Katherina (spelt Katharina). Dialogue is cut from every scene of the play, and lines are moved from one scene to another throughout. Some dialogue is also changed (for example, Katherina's "Is it your will to make a stale of me amongst these mates?" is changed to "Is it your will to make a whore of me amongst these mates?"). The bidding scene from Act 2, Scene 1 is almost entirely absent, as is the whole of Act 3, Scene 1, where Lucentio and Hortensio reveal their true identities to Katherine. The film was both a box office and a critical success.

An animated feature length adaptation was made in 2004, directed by Roberto Lione, called Kate-La bisbetica domata. Featuring the voices of Neri Marcorè and Daniela Cavallini, the film used stop motion animation techniques but featured construction paper puppets rather than clay or graphics - a technique Lione invented, to which he refers as "papermotion". In the film, Petruchio is ruined by gambling and plans to get out of debt by marrying a rich woman – Kate, the daughter of a successful industrialist (Carlo Reali). Kate however is a fiercely independent woman and doesn't tolerate any kind of masculine posturing. Nevertheless, she agrees to court Petruchio as she is curious to see how things turn out. After a stormy courtship (which makes up the majority of the film), Kate finally decides to marry Petruchio. However, prior to their wedding, she has to protect him from the Mafia boss, Don Sarago (Pino Amendola), to whom he owes money. Upon her successful completion of this task, Petruchio realises that he has found a good woman, and he vows to be obedient to her for the rest of their lives.

Other film versions (which are loose adaptations as opposed to straight translations from stage to screen) include: the 1929 The Framing of the Shrew, directed by Arvid E. Gillstrom, and starring Edward Thompson and Evelyn Preer; the 1933 You Made Me Love You, directed by Monty Banks, and starring Stanley Lupino and Thelma Todd; the 1938 Second Best Bed, directed by Tom Walls, and starring Jane Baxter and Walls himself; the 1942 Italian adaptation La bisbetica domata, directed by Ferdinando Maria Poggioli, and starring Amedeo Nazzari and Lilia Silvi; the 1943 Hungarian adaptation Makacs Kata (Stubborn Kate) directed by Emil Martonffy, and starring Katalin Karády and Pál Jávor; another 1943 Hungarian adaptation, Makrancos hölgy (Unruly Lady), directed by Viktor Bánky, and starring Emmi Buttykay and Miklós Hajmássy; the 1948 Mexican adaptation Cartas marcadas, directed by René Cardona, and starring Marga López and Pedro Infante; the 1956 Spanish adaptation La fierecilla domada, directed by Antonio Román, and starring Carmen Sevilla and Alberto Closas; the 1962 Egyptian adaptation Ah min hawaa, directed by Fatin Abdel Wahab, and starring Lobna Abdel Aziz and Rushdy Abaza; the 1963 western McLintock!, directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, and starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara; the 1999 teen film 10 Things I Hate About You, directed by Gil Junger, and starring Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford (Katherina) and Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona (Petruchio); the 2003 comedy Deliver Us from Eva, directed by Gary Hardwick, and starring Gabrielle Union and LL Cool J; and the 2010 Bollywood film Isi Life Mein, directed by Vidhi Kasliwal, and starring Akshay Oberoi and Sandeepa Dhar.

Read more about this topic:  The Taming Of The Shrew, Adaptations

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