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The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
Actors: Joseph Cawthorn, Clyde Cook, Douglas Fairbanks, Dorothy Jordan, Edwin Maxwell
Director: Sam Taylor
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2007     1hr 6min

This "talkie" is the only film co-starring Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. This print is from the 1966 re-release, the only film Miss Pickford allowed since her retirement. It is faithful to the original except that...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Joseph Cawthorn, Clyde Cook, Douglas Fairbanks, Dorothy Jordan, Edwin Maxwell
Director: Sam Taylor
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Telavista
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 06/05/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/1929
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1929
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 6min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Shakespeare Comedy still funny in our day
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 06/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a rather unusual and special old film, originally made in 1929 and restored with new music and some editing for a re-release in 1966, and which has now been digitally remastered for this DVD. The main thing to strike the general viewer as unusual or special is its blend of Shakespearian dialogue, medieval European setting and slapstick-style comedy, but once accustomed to the language, this farcical story is as fresh and funny as any contemporary comedy. Needless to say, the material of Shakespeare's best-known work is timeless, and "The Taming of the Shrew" is no exception. The story is about a rich merchant who wants to marry off his eldest daughter, Katherine, but no one will have her because of her bad temper and penchant for whip-cracking and throwing objects across the room. Then along comes Petruchio who happily embraces the challenge to tame this shrew, and does so by using reverse psychology and giving her a taste of her own medicine by deliberately irritating, humiliating and contradicting her at every turn. But will she weaken, or work out what he's doing and reverse the psychology? Anyone with a good sense of humour will find plenty of laughs such as Petruchio's loud chomping on an apple during the wedding ceremony to annoy Katherine and break her wild spirit, and one wonders how much of this approach might really work for such shrewish personalities!

The main characters of Katherine and Petruchio are masterfully portrayed by Hollywood's most popular couple of the 1920s: Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, and "The Taming of the Shrew" was their first - and alas, last - picture they made together. Fairbanks grew up with Shakespeare and began his acting career in a Shakespearian play, but ended up doing comedies on Broadway before his famous decade of action/adventure films in the 1920s, playing characters like Zorro, Robin Hood and D'Artagnan. When the sound era began in 1929, Fairbanks was no doubt eager to do a Shakespeare play with the new medium of sound film. Although some audiences might not have liked the sudden change in characters for both of these big stars, I personally enjoyed seeing them in very different roles, especially Mary Pickford as the bad-tempered shrew which is in total contrast to her famous "America's Sweetheart" screen persona. Both of them give a powerful and memorable performance, and this new DVD edition has very good picture and sound quality. My only quibble is that the speech is a bit difficult to understand at times; perhaps a combination of the Shakespearian dialogue and the age of the recording, but not bad enough to lose the plot or miss any witty remarks in this timeless farce about shrews, marriage and the men who attempt to tame a shrew.
Who Cares That Its Shakespeare?
Samantha Kelley | USA | 09/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Shakespeare is always difficult to watch for most people, especially when it is left in any of the original dialogue. It seems inaccessible and silly for the most part. This version of the Taming of the Shrew retains some of the original dialogue although much has been changed while remaining similar. However, it is acted well and with comprehension which helps the reader to understand the motives behind the words even if the words are not heard absolutely clearly or if they are not completely understood. This is thanks to their training on the stage and the silent screen.

This film is also hindered by its being an early talkie made only in 1929, two years after the first talkie was made. The technology was crude, often planting actors near stationary objects where microphones could be hidden and employing large gaps of silence between spoken word. Unexpectedly though, this film is neither static nor silent. It abounds with action and cleverly placed points for speaking so that the actors could move around when not delivering lines. It also used background music to pad scenes that had no dialogue and sound effects when necessary. What results is a film that technologically was ahead of its time.

Part of the draw to this film was the stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Hollywood's golden couple. The two were in their downfall, and making this film together contributed to the tension between them. Still, they have tremendous chemistry and talent which enables them to give a wonderful show. However, it seems to be more of a vehicle to showcase Fairbanks than Pickford.

This film, although ridden with a few Shakespearean stereotypes such as quivering jesters and servants, has a modern comedic flair. Mary Pickford's excellent screwball-esque timing and Douglas Fairbanks' overbearingly forward personality prove that the two should not have been on the decline. Sadly, the public wanted new stars to replace the ones they had loved so dearly during the silent era. This is the only reason that this film was not the large success that it should have been. For a Shakespeare film, it is wonderful."
A Legendary Debacle
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 06/03/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Mary Pickford (1892-1979) and Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) were among the greatest stars of the silent era. In 1929 they appeared on screen together in an early sound version of Shakespeare's THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. The film was such a notable failure that it effectively ended their careers.

Although it has good production values and runs at a fast clip, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW really is a dreadful little film. Both stars are clearly uncomfortable with the material and, in spite of their love affair and marriage, they lack anything that might be described as on-screen chemistry. Pickford pouts; Fairbanks swaggers; and after sixty three minutes the credits roll and you feel greatly relieved.

The DVD release is adequate rather than pristine, but there are no bonuses of any kind--unless one counts brief biographies riddled with typographical errors. Best left to diehard fans and film historians.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer"