I’ve been looking for a good print of this movie for a few years. Orson Welles made this in his later years when money for his productions was very hard to find. So, he allied himself with a Spanish production company. The movie didn’t make any money and the prints of the film weren’t preserved well. But at last, I was able to see a good copy.
The story is a pasting together of sections of three of Shakespeare’s plays (Henry IV – Part 1, Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V) that deal with Prince Hal and Falstaff. Welles was able to assemble a cast that did justice to the work. Welles plays Falstaff and was born for the part. John Gielgud is King Henry IV and Jeanne Moreau plays Doll Tearsheet. Ralph Richardson performs narration. The rest of the cast I’m not familiar with but I will say they acquit themselves admirably especially Keith Baxter, the actor playing Prince Hal.
This is Shakespeare, not modern cinema so not all audiences will enjoy it. But for those who have a liking for the Bard this motion picture will reward your time. It’s a very human tale of a young man (Prince Hal) rebelling against his place in the world. And at the same time, it is the story of a larger-than-life character, Falstaff. A man that combines wit, braggadocio, cowardice, humor, lust for life and villainy in almost equal proportions.
Technically there are some aspects of the film that aren’t up to modern standards. The audio track isn’t perfect. But for the most part it’s an engaging production. Even the battle scene which was made on a very small budget is a cinematic success and enhances the film.
I need to buy a good copy of this film. I can see watching this one about every six months or so. Recommended for the lover of Shakespeare.