The Taming of the Shrew (1929)

This is where we can put reviews for photoplay created after the silent era.
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The Taming of the Shrew (1929)

Post by dachshundonstilts »

I just recently saw this Mary Pickford-Douglas Fairbanks joint venture, which for some reason I hadn't sought out before. The only version available today is the 1966 re-release, which had obvious overdubs of music (as well as some sound effects) to make it more palatable to a 1966 audience. In this day and age, I'm more interested in it as an historical artifact of what was possible for talkies in 1929, so I'd rather they'd left it alone. The music is mostly played over shots with no dialogue, though, so it's not too much of an intrusion. It's a little irksome that 7 minutes' worth of footage was cut out, leaving the runtime at a lean 67 minutes.

Cinematically, the film is impressive for its era. Director Sam Taylor uses closeups and camera movement more than you would expect in a 1929 talkie. It's not merely what Erich von Stroheim derided as a "filmed stage play," which is somewhat ironic considering it's adapted from Shakespeare... in fact, it was the first Shakespeare talkie. It's at times a little difficult to make out some of the Bard's dialogue, given the recording technology of the time, but whatever doesn't come across in the words is expressed through the action.

For pure entertainment value, I have to say the thing is still funny, thanks largely to Pickford and Fairbanks' over-the-top performances. Both, of course, play wildly undisciplined and stubborn characters in a clash of wills, and one has to wonder if the strain on their marriage at the time actually helped the film in that regard. Mary Pickford later said that working on this picture was the worst experience of her life, but in the end they had quite a product to show for it. I laughed, repeatedly. Can't ask for more than that.
"I feel so low, old chap, that I could get on stilts and walk under a dachshund." - Monty, "It" (1927)

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Re: The Taming of the Shrew (1929)

Post by donnie »

Excellent review. I watched some clips from it, and it appears to have been a good one, though the quality of the clips I saw was rather poor in sound and picture. It's a shame they monkeyed with it.

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