A Midsummer Night’s Dream At The Movies

I read somewhere when the Kevin Kline, Michelle Pheiffer version came out that it was the seventh movie version of this love story. I decided to look into it with the help of the International Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and found a few versions people seem to have forgotten. Listed below are all the films I could find that have been made of Shakespeare’s classic.

1909 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
First version I could find. Made in the US with a girl (Gladys Hulette) playing Puck. Comments from the imdb by didi-5 - “This version of Shakespeare's play works well with some excellent performances (the girl playing Puck, Julia Swayne-Gordon, Maurice Costello, Florence Turner) and an attempt to pack in all the twists and turns of the plot into a very short time span. The curio is that Oberon is omitted and Penelope added instead - very odd! The players are also very funny, particularly the wild looking actor playing Bottom. Not at all boring and exceptionally good quality visually.”

1913 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
An Italian version. I couldn't really find out any more info.

1924 - Sommernachtstraum, Ein
This German version was also known as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Wood Love”. Stop laughing. Directed by Hans Huemann with a cast I could list but I know it would mean nothing to you.

1935 - A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Hollywood Classic with an all-star cast. Tag line was “Three Hundred Years In The Making!” Cast included James Cagney as Bottom, Dick Powell as Lysander, Mickey Rooney as Puck, Olivia De Havilland as Hermia and Jean Muir as Helena. Directed by William Dieterle and Max Reinhardt. Interesting thing about this production was there were three versions. One was 133 mins, an edited version was 117 mins and a full version with “overture and exit music” was 142 mins.

1946 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Black and white TV version featuring Desmond Llewelyn (famous for playing Q in James Bond films) as Theseus.

1947 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
I think this is the same as the 1946 version because the cast is identical.

1958 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Another TV version.

1959 - Sen noci svatojanske
Czechoslovakian animation directed by Jiri Trnka. A version dubbed into English with Richard Burton and other members of the Royal Shakespeare Company providing the voices was released in 1961.

1964 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (TV version)
A sixties UK TV version which is worth mentioning as it was described as “Benny Hill’s high point”. Benny played Bottom surrounded by well-established actors like Anna Massey (Titania), Peter Wyngarde (yes Jason King playing Oberon), Patrick Allen (Theseus), Jill Bennett (Hermia) and Tony Tanner (Puck). Directed by Joan Kemp-Welch with original music by Nino Rota.

1967 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Ballet version featuring the New York City Ballet.

1968 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
English TV version featuring Diana Rigg as Helena, Helen Mirren as Hermia, David Warner as Lysander and Ian Richardson as Oberon.

1969 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
No details.

1970 - Midzomernachtsdroom
Belgian TV version, featuring characters called Wig, Knus, Spoel and Pluis to name but a few.

1971 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Ronnie Barker started as Bottom in yet another television version featuring well-known TV actors of the time. Amanda Barrie as Hermia, Lynn Redgrave as Helena and Robert Stephens as Oberon.

1981 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Another UK TV version featuring stars of the day. Robert Lindsay, Nicky Henson, Pippa Guard and Cherith Mellor play the lovers. Geoffrey Palmer plays Quince along side Brain Glover as Bottom. And straight from Quadrophenia and before he met up with Blur, Phil Daniels plays Puck.

1982 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
At a guess I’d say this was an American TV version with William Hurt as Oberon.

1985 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Spanish TV version with some very strange characters – Theseus/The Beast, Snout/Tree, Demetrius as David Haughton (yep that’s what the character is called) and Romeo/Bottom.

1996 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
This version used a doubling up of characters possibly used in Shakespeare’s time with Hippolyta also being Titania, Theseus also as Oberon and Philostarte also as Puck. Plus fairies and mechanicals doubling up.

1999 – Midsummer
Indie film production featuring people we’ve never heard of then and never heard of since.

1999 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Heavily cut text with a strange obsession with bicycles and dwarves stealing record players. US all-star cast featuring Kevin Kline as Bottom, Michelle Pheiffer as Titania, Rupert Everett as Oberon and a brilliant Puck by Stanley Tucci.

Dave Slade