Macbeth (1948)

November 3rd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Orson Welles | Cast: Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O’Herlihy, Roddy McDowall | US Drama 107′

Unlike Orson Welles’s later unorthodox adaptations of Shakespeare shot in far flung locations abroad ‘Macbeth’ was dashed off in Hollywood in 23 days on a budget of less than $900,000 the unapologetically commercial outfit Republic (whose logo it comes as quite a shock to see at the conclusion).

The end result was murky even by Welles’s standards, full of incongruously varied accents (as you would expect from a cast that includes both Dan O’Herlihy and Roddy McDowall), not least Welles’s own. (Poor Jeanette Nolan’s Lady Macbeth has taken a lot of flack over the years, but personally I think she’s pretty effective.)

Jacques Ibert’s score is quite impressive, and appropriately manages to include bagpipes. Welles plainly knew his Eisenstein and while the sets looks if they were left over from an episode of ‘Star Trek’ John Russell lights them for maximum effect’; and in Welles himself – still quite light on his feet in those days – it of course possesses a truly formidable protagonist.@RichardChatten


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