The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0688  Monday, 15 March 2004

From:           Kenneth Meaney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 15 Mar 2004 11:29:35 +0200
Subject: 15.0654 Hamlet On Film Query Follow Up
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0654 Hamlet On Film Query Follow Up

Tanya Gough writes:

"Ken Meaney mentions a recitation by Donald Calthrop in the Elstree
Calling revue of 1930, but was this a vaudeville type assemblage of
acts, or was the To Be speech integrated into a story line?   Does it
make a difference, or is the first occurrence the first, no matter what
form it took?"

Luke McKernan and Olwen Terris (in Walking Shadows: Shakespeare in the
National Film and Television Archive, British Film Institute, 1994)
describe the film as follows:

"Feature film variety review. A creaky but fascinating and often highly
entertaining collection of party pieces by a host of British variety
stars... Throughout the film there is a running gag with Donald
Calthrop, who is trying to raise the tone of the show by putting on
Shakespeare. Having been interrupted several times throughout the
picture, while sneaking in extracts from Hamlet ["To be or not to be"]
and Henry V, towards the end Calthrop gets to put on a spoof of the
Douglas Fairbanks/Mary Pickford THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (USA 1929).
Calthrop (Doug/Petruchio) arrives by motorbike to ask for
Mary/Katharina, played by Anna May Wong. She responds by throwing the
furniture at him, then a succession of custard pies, one of which hits
Shakespeare (Gordon Begg) as he enters. The humour is somewhat laboured."

Is it a first? Well, if Bernhardt's three-minute film of the duel in
Hamlet counts as "the first performance of Hamlet on film", I can't see
why not.

Ken Meaney

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