With Joss Whedon's low-budget, modern retelling of Shakespeare's romantic comedy "Much Ado About Nothing" opening June 7, the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre is getting into the Elizabethan spirit with a new series, "Much Ado About Shakespeare: The Bard on Film."
The six-day festival opens May 29 with Franco Zeffirelli's boisterous 1967 adaptation of the Bard's battle-of-the-sexes-comedy "The Taming of the Shrew," one of the better post-"Cleopatra" vehicles starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The film marked the feature directorial debut of Zeffirelli, who would earn a best director Oscar nomination for his next Shakespearean extravaganza, 1968's "Romeo and Juliet."
A "Macbeth" double bill is set for May 30. The program kicks off with Roman Polanski's R-rated 1971 version of "Macbeth," the first feature he made after the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate. Jon Finch and Francesca Annis star. Rounding out the bill is Akira Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood," his masterful 1957 samurai adaptation of the Scottish play starring Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada.
Produced during the height of World War II, Laurence Olivier's stirring Technicolor 1944 version of "Henry V" screens May 31. Olivier, who made his directorial feature debut with the classic, also starred in the historical spectacle. Two years after it opened in England, the film was released in the U.S. and earned four Academy Award nominations, including best film and actor. Olivier won an honorary Oscar for outstanding achievement as an actor/director/producer.