Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tonight at the Rosendale!

I love the Rosendale Theatre Collective, a not-for-profit organization in the little burg that lies midway between New Paltz, where I now live, and Kingston, where I will move at the end of the month. Luckily Rosendale will still be close enough that I can continue to participate in the Programming Committee.

It was in this capacity that I suggested the classic 1935 film of the Hollywood Bowl production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by the renown German director Max Reinhardt. Because it's pretty much midsummer, and to honor Mickey Rooney who died this year, we decided to give it a try.

I love this movie, and I especially like Rooney's antic and unique portrayal of Puck. He was 14 years old but looked about six, and had more energy than a barrel of monkeys. He squeals, squeaks, shouts and bounces in a way I've never seen any actor do, in the role of Puck or any other. One of the critics of the day thought he was trying too hard to be cute--but that's nonsense. Mickey Rooney was the personification of cute, especially as a kid, and I have no doubt that the source of those squeals and squeaks was Reinhardt himself, a seasoned director who had a raw natural talent on his hands and took full advantage of it. Rooney's Puck is not cuddly or sentimental--he's a imp of the first magnitude, daring and pesky, totally detestable one minute and charming the next. Quicksilver, lightning escaped from the bottle.

The production is astonishing partly because it was in black and white. It appears to have been shot through chiffon sheets sprinkled with sequins, and lit by fireflies. James Cagney does a creditable turn as Bottom, and the film introduces a young beauty named Olivia De Havilland.

A Midsummer Night's Dream was nominated for a few Oscars and won two--one notable because it's the only time in the history of the institution that an Oscar was won by write-in vote. Hal Mohr, the cinematographer, took home a statuette even though he had not been nominated.

I call that magic. In fact, everything about this movie is magic. Hop in to Rosendale at 7:15 tonight and I'll be happy to show you!

No comments:

Post a Comment