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Romeo and Juliet

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Product Details

  • Actors: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, Basil Rathbone
  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Writers: Talbot Jennings, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Irving Thalberg
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 14, 2007
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000QGE8J2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,940 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Romeo and Juliet" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Vintage short: Master Will Shakespeare
  • Classic cartoon: Little Cheeser
  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Shakespeare's classic tale of love and youth ruined by a family feud. The Montagues and the Capulets, two powerful families of Verona, hate each other. Romeo, a Montague, crashes a Capulet party, and there meets Juliet. They fall in love and secretly marry. After killing a nephew of Lady Capulet in a fight, Romeo is banished from Verona. Capulet tries to marry Juliet to Paris, a prince. Juliet seeks the counsel of Friar Laurence, who married her and Romeo. He suggests a daring plan that ends tragically.


The lovers of Shakespeare's tragi-romance are brought to suitably quivering life by Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard in this glossy 1936 MGM take on the play. And yes, they're a tad older than the headstrong youths of Shakespeare's story (Howard was 43!), but they make up for that with sheer fervor. Shearer's performance looks like Great Lady acting at times, but she commits completely to Juliet's passion, and Howard is a delight. Basil Rathbone and Edna May Oliver are slam-dunk casting as Tybalt and the Nurse, respectively, and if John Barrymore is too weathered for Mercutio, he nevertheless works up an antic, sarcastic energy in the role. The production was supervised by MGM boy wonder Irving Thalberg (Shearer's husband), and it's an utterly lavish affair; the courtyard for the balcony scene looks exactly as expansive and studio-moon-drenched as your romantic imagination tells you it should. The film went the way of many such prestige productions: director George Cukor later said it lost a million dollars. (This was the same year he made Sylvia Scarlett, another box-office flop that has aged well.) It may be Shakespeare Lite, but the film zips along on the back of a love story that has been, to say the least, quite durable over the years. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer are perfectly cast in the roles of Romeo and Juliet.
Rosella Ann Myles
It's still something very rare on film: Shakespeare that is well and respectfully adapted for the screen, accessible to any viewer, and beautifully played.
Sandy McLendon
Visually - this is one of the best looking black and white period films I've ever seen.
Britt Le Bonzo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 11, 2007
Format: DVD
I was very pleased with my "Literary Classics Collection" and "Motion Picture Masterpieces Collection" that I purchased from Warner's, and it looks like the studio originally known for gritty urban dramas continues to go highbrow with this collection of four movies featuring interpretations of works by the Bard. The press release by Warner Home Video has the following extras listed for each movie:

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
Cast includes James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland (in her screen debut), Joe E. Brown, and Mickey Rooney. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It won for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.
DVD Special Features:
Commentary by film historian Scott MacQueen
Olivia de Havilland screen test
Vintage featurette "A Dream Comes True" (8 minutes)
Presenting... Gallery of 6 teaser trailers showcasing cast members
Warner Bros. Studio Café teaser trailer
Musical short "Shake Mr. Shakespeare"
Theatrical trailer
Subtitles: English, French and Portuguese (feature film only)

Romeo and Juliet (1936)
This was actually an MGM production. George Cukor directs with Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard in the title roles. Nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture.
DVD Special Features:
Vintage short "Master Will Shakespeare"
Classic MGM cartoon "Little Cheeser"
Theatrical trailer
Subtitles: English (feature film only)

Othello (1965)
Lawrence Olivier in the title role, Maggie Smith as Desdemona, Joyce Redman as Emilia, and Frank Finlay as Iago. All four performers were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 16, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
this is a lavish, wonderful production, with a cast that is so comfortable with the language. They bring out the beauty of the words, and clarity to their meaning.
Norma Shearer, despite being more than twice Juliet's age, plays her exquisitely...I find her to be the loveliest and most graceful of the screen Juliets I've seen.
Leslie Howard, who was 42 at the time, is splendid. With his perfect musical voice and enunciation, he's a joy to watch and listen to...what a pity that he didn't film more Shakespeare...a Howard "Hamlet" (which he had a huge success with on Broadway), would have certainly been a film treasure.
Also great is John Barrymore's flamboyant Mercutio, and Edna May Oliver is my all-time favorite Nurse.
Though I think the imaginitive and slightly bizarre Baz Luhmann/Leonardo DiCaprio version is fabulous and a must-see (as is the fight scene in the Zeffirelli production !) what makes this George Cukor version so special is the poetry of the language...if you want to hear the words spoken as I'm sure Shakespeare intended, give this film a try.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Sandy McLendon on January 24, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
It's amazing how often the legendary Irving Thalberg was allowed to make M.G.M. "prestige pictures" that produced awed reviews and spotty box-office receipts. It's even more amazing how often he required his wife, actress Norma Shearer, to star in them, to the eventual detriment of her career. As good as Shearer was, she acquired a reputation as a star of stately, dull movies made to please no one but her husband.
The notable exception to Thalberg's run of worthy Shearer failures was "Romeo and Juliet". Although it conformed to the norm by not making much money, it was a very fine film, far better than most filmed Shakespeare.
Norma was 36 when the movie was shot, and it was feared she was a bit old for the part. The problem was tackled by hiring an even older Romeo, 43-year-old Leslie Howard. The supporting cast was the best in the business- John Barrymore as Mercutio, Basil Rathbone as Tybalt, Edna May Oliver as the Nurse, Reginald Denny as Benvolio, and Violet Kemble-Cooper as Lady Capulet. George Cukor was tapped as director, and Agnes de Mille choreographed the period dance that is the highlight of the lovers' first meeting.
Production values were extraordinary, even for a Shearer movie. The creamily lit photography flattered the stars, and the props and sets were magnificent. The exterior set for the balcony scene took up all of M.G.M's Stage Sixteen, then the largest soundstage in the world; there was so much real vegetation that the building began producing its own weather. The costumes were a bit over-the-top; those for the supporting cast are highly theatrical, and the star wardrobe is intended to flatter at the expense of authenticity (Shearer's hairstyle is that of a boy of the period, not a young woman).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
I actually saw this classic 1936 version staring Norma Shearer AFTER seeing the 1968 film with Olivia Hussey, and I have to say this one is also special in it's own way, and I would recommend it as worthy of viewing at least once. It features very beautiful sets and scenes, like the masked ball where Juilet dances as Romeo spies her the first time. Some of the acting is even better, like the role of Juliet's nurse(more believable). Although the two lead actors were in fact two old for the parts, I have read that during filming a white guaze type material was placed over the camera lens, to supposedly help mask the actors apparent ages. It's possible this may have been removed by film restorers who mistook it for distortion/age, but I'm not sure. Again If you enjoyed the 60's version, this one is close behind.
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