Monday, December 23, 2013
Cukor’s biggest production—and his sole Shakespeare adaptation—is an opulent, beautifully crafted re-telling of the Bard’s legendary romance. It’s an overtly literary movie, but one that’s invigorated by Cukor’s dynamic visual stylings and a catalogue of refined, vulnerable performances (Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard as the two lovers, with John Barrymore in a scene-stealing turn as Mercutio). Shearer was married at the time to producer Irving Thalberg, and Romeo and Juliet is as much Thalberg’s monument to his bride as it is Cukor’s tribute to Shakespeare. Watch for a stunning ball sequence choreographed by a young Agnes de Mille.