Relevant book review

Harold David Rennie (aa349@chebucto.ns.ca)
Wed, 2 Sep 1998 17:04:21 -0300 (ADT)

This review was originally posted on H-FILM, an academic listserv on the
scholarly study of media, earlier this year (can you tell that I'm
cleaning up old files?)

I think this might be of interest to subscribers of this list. It is
posted for purposes of information sharing only; I have no commercial
interest in its promotion, nor have I read the book being reviewed.

Hal in Halifax

Harold D Rennie <aa349@chebucto.ns.ca>

--------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 15:12:04 -0600
From: Steven Mintz, U. Houston <SMintz@UH.EDU>
To: H-FILM@H-NET.MSU.EDU
Subject: Abele on Boose and Burt, Shakespeare, the Movie

H-NET BOOK REVIEW
Published by H-PCAACA@msu.edu (March, 1998)

Lynda E. Boose and Richard Burt, ed. _Shakespeare, the Movie:
Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV and Video_. New York:
Routledge, 1997. x + 277 pp. Bibliography and index. $75.00
(cloth), ISBN 0-415-16584-9; $22.95 (paper), ISBN 0-415-16585-7.

Reviewed for H-PCAACA by Elizabeth Abele, Temple University

Lynda Boose and Richard Burt have collected quality essays that
examine filmed Shakespeare from a variety of perspectives. Many of
the essays do excellent work in viewing filmed Shakespeare within
the context of Hollywood and/or international film, demonstrating
how Hollywood colors Shakespeare and how Shakespeare colors
Hollywood. The most unusual and effective in this regard is
Katherine Eggert's "Age Cannot Wither Him: Warren Beatty's _Bugsy_
as Hollywood Cleopatra." After demonstrating the uncanny plot
parallels, Eggert does a brilliant job of tracing the hidden
influence of _Antony and Cleopatra_ throughout the history of
Hollywood, erupting consciously or not in _Bugsy_. From the
opposite perspective, James N. Noehlin discusses in "'Top of the
World Ma': _Richard III and Cinematic Convention" how film director
Richard Loncraine transformed Richard Eyre's stage production into
the Hollywood gangster idiom, quoting Cagney's _White Heat_ and
other films. Tony Howard's "When Peter Met Orson: The 1953 CBS
_King Lear_" provides an interesting account of how one Shakespeare
production was filmed, examining the conjunction of producer,
director, star and Will.

Other essays use filmed versions of Shakespeare as an opportunity to
compare different productions of the same play, a comparison that is
problematic with stage productions that must be reconstructed from
memory and/or reviews, and that the reader is unlikely to have the
opportunity to experience. In examining filmed productions, the
critic has the opportunity to compare productions from the silent
age to the modern day. Filmed versions of _Othello_, _Taming of the
Shrew_ and _King Lear_ are compared in this book, and close readings
of single productions are also included in this anthology. These
essays provide a particularly valuable tool for classroom
discussion.

What this anthology does not adequately address is Shakespeare's
"popularity," in America or internationally. Lawrence Levine has
written that Shakespeare lost its "low culture" appeal in the
twentieth century. Do these essays prove a "popular" presence for
Shakespeare in American culture--or are they attempting to
"re-popularize" the Bard? Filmed versions examined move from "high
culture" international and art films to "low culture" films like
_Porky's 2_, films that vary in their relationship to "popular" or
"popularizing." This anthology provides excellent readings of
filmed Shakespeares (though with significant overlap), but more work
needs to be done to determine the contemporary position of
Shakespeare in our culture.

This review is copyrighted (c) 1998 by H-Net and the
Popular Culture and the American Culture Associations.
It may be reproduced electronically for educational or
scholarly use. The Associations reserve print rights
and permissions. (Contact: P.C.Rollins at the following
electronic address: Rollins@osuunx.ucc.okstate.edu)