Twelfth Night (Sichel, 1969) View large image
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Film Details

Directed by: John Sichel

Produced: 1969

Countries & Regions: United Kingdom

DVD Details

Certificate: U

Length: 100 mins

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 4 May 2009

Cat No: 7953032

Extras:
Languages(s): English
Interactive Menu

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Twelfth Night (Sichel, 1969)

Cast: Tommy Steele , Alec Guinness , Joan Plowright , Ralph Richardson , Adrienne Corri , Sheila Reid , Gary Raymond , John Moffat

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A star-studded cast comes together to perform Shakespeare’s famous comedy of misunderstandings. Handsome Duke Orsino (Gary Raymond)’s... Read More

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A star-studded cast comes together to perform Shakespeare’s famous comedy of misunderstandings. Handsome Duke Orsino (Gary Raymond)’s attempts to woo the beautiful Olivia (Adrienne Corri) go awry when she falls in love with his intermediary. This page is in fact Viola (Joan Plowright), a girl in disguise, who herself loves Orsino. Matters are complicated by the arrival of Viola’s twin brother, whom she believes to be dead. Meanwhile, the boisterous Sir Toby Belch (Ralph Richardson), effete Andrew Aguecheek (John Moffatt) and Olivia’s maid, Maria (Sheila Reid), conspire with Feste (Tommy Steele), a clown, to humiliate the arrogant Malvolio (Alec Guinness), head of Olivia’s household. This was originally screened in 1969 as part of the ITV Saturday Night Theatre series.

BBC Shakespeare adaptations sometimes have unfair reputations as worthy adaptations that are handy study aids but which fail as pure entertainment. Drivel. The acting talent of an imaginatively selected cast in this version of Twelfth Night breathes new life into the piece, and more than compensates for its slight staginess.

One of Shakespeare’s most eccentric plays, with lurches in tone and intriguing plot twists, this combines the Bard’s plot of twins, cross-dressing, misunderstanding and romance with its amazing all-star cast to create a superior adaptation.

Joan Plowright, looking much younger than her 40 years, is a delightful Viola, while Adrienne Corri is an appropriately haughty Olivia. However, it’s the two Sirs who steal the show. Too often Malvolio is played for sympathy rather than laughs, but here Alec Guinness wisely interprets the character as a pompous buffoon, while Ralph Richardson has a high old time as the bawdy, drunken Sir Toby Belch. All this and Tommy Steele (as Feste) playing the lute too!

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