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Chimes at Midnight (1965)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Orson welles
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0050DONFA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,089 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Director: Orson Welles
Cast: Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, John Gielgud.
Description: The legendary Shakespearean character Sir John Falstaff, the notoriously drunken, obese, and yet charming companion of the young Henry V, steps up from supporting character in several plays to the central focus of Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight, considered by many critics the best of the director's acclaimed Shakespeare films.
Color/B&W: B&W. Running Time: 115 mins.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Konczal on May 12, 2006
Format: DVD
The search for Orson Welles' late masterpiece "Chimes at Midnight" just got a little easier. A Brazilian DVD import takes the Welles classic into the digital age and offers an alternative to the out-of-print Arthur Cantor VHS release.

"Chimes at Midnight" is one of the great Shakespearean adaptations and a true 'lost classic'. It's also the last masterpiece that Orson Welles directed in his lifetime, and with 'Citizen Kane,' 'Magnificent Ambersons' and 'Touch of Evil' comprises a quartet of major cinematic works by Welles. Though rarely seen, "Chimes at Midnight" has influenced modern filmmakers. Mel Gibson, for example, admitted the famous "Battle of Shrewesbury" scene influenced his own "Braveheart."

The film is an inventive re-editing and condensation of Shakespeare's plays, spanning from the end of Richard II to the beginning of Henry V. The film shifts the focus from the titular English kings to the character of Jack Falstaff, played by Welles himself in a virtuoso performance. Falstaff's relationship with young Prince Hal (later Henry V) is explored, and uncannily parallels Welles' own experience with the young talents of Hollywood.

There are several great performances, by John Gielgud as Henry IV, Keith Baxter as Hal, Kenneth Branagh look-alike Norman Rodway as Hotspur, Welles regular Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet, and the great Dame Margaret Rutherford (of "Miss Marple" fame) as Mistress Quickly.

"Chimes at Midnight" can be a jarring experience due to inconsistent film quality, low budget sets and Welles' flair for shock cuts. Once you adapt to the style and limitations, it's a truly rewarding experience. Welles has found a deeply moving story between the lines of Shakespeare's histories.

"Chimes at Midnight" was Welles' final attempt to popularize Shakespeare for the masses. With any luck, this film will eventually reach the wider audiences that Welles failed to achieve in his lifetime.
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98 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Thelonious on June 9, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
FYI - Amazon combines reviews across different versions and sometimes this is unhelpful. This review is specific to the "Hollywood's Attic" (aka "Nostalgia Family Video") version (it has a pink/orange cover with a drawing of Welles as Falstaff) as opposed to the Brazilian/Portuguese version (close-up sepia-toned photo of Welles and Jeanne Moreau on the cover). [Not a child as I'd originally thought]

I'm not going to argue quality of transfer or mastering as I'm really not a great judge of those things. I do want to warn people that the copies available here seem to all be DVD-R's and not commercially produced DVD's.

This, of course, means that they won't last as long and are more fragile. The film is perfectly watchable - I just thought people should know before they buy (and the sellers don't seem to be inclined to put this in their listings - which I find somewhat shady)
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By John Guzlowski on November 11, 2005
Format: DVD
I first saw this film in 1967, and I remember it as if I just stepped out of the theater. Great films affect us this way and this is a great film. The camera work and the pacing will remind you of Kurosawa and Kubrick, and that in turn will remind you how much these great film makers owe to Welles. Each scene is perfect. The actors don't act, they breathe the life that is in their characters. When Welles swaggers as Falstaff, you believe Falstaff and love him and trust him and distrust him. When he is rejected by Hal at the end of the film, you feel that all the world's sorrow is embedded in Falstaff, this dying old man.

Really, this film finally is as great as Citizen Kane, and perhaps even a little greater because what Welles does here more successfully than he did in Kane is that he is not afraid to show us what happens when a human heart reaches beyond itself and fails to touch another human heart. In Kane, Welles could imagine that tragedy but here in Chimes at Midnight he lives it.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Konczal on August 4, 2004
Format: DVD
What a shame it is that Orson Welles' "Chimes at Midnight" isn't currently available on DVD. I was extremely fortunate to receive a VHS version as a gift before the usual legal wrangling over Welles' later works forced it out of print. According to wellesnet.com, a Spanish DVD is available, and there are plans to re-release it in the US, hopefully sometime after October 2004. Enter your email address in the "E-mail me when available" field on this site; you'll also be "voting" for the DVD's release!

(Since the film is currently unavailable in the United States, the following review is based on film screenings and the VHS copy I have. I'll update my review if and when the DVD is released in the US).

"Chimes at Midnight" is one of the great Shakespearean adaptations and a true 'lost classic'. It's also the last masterpiece that Orson Welles directed in his lifetime, and with 'Citizen Kane,' 'Magnificent Ambersons' and 'Touch of Evil' comprises a quartet of major cinematic works by Welles. Though rarely seen, "Chimes at Midnight" has influenced modern filmmakers. Mel Gibson, for example, admitted the famous "Battle of Shrewesbury" scene influenced his own "Braveheart."

The film is an inventive re-editing and condensation of Shakespeare's plays, spanning from the end of Richard II to the beginning of Henry V. The film shifts the focus from the titular English kings to the character of Jack Falstaff, played by Welles himself in a virtuoso performance. Falstaff's relationship with young Prince Hal (later Henry V) is explored, and uncannily parallels Welles' own experiences with the young talents of Hollywood.
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