Monday, July 29, 2019

Quote of the Day (Robert Benchley, on Acting Shakespearean Comedy)

“An actor, in order to get Shakespeare's comedy across, has got to roll his eyes, rub his stomach, kick his father in the seat, make his voice crack, and place his finger against the side of his nose. There is a great deal of talk about the vulgarity and slap-stick humor of the movies. If the movies ever tried to put anything over as horsy and crass as the scene in which young Gobbo kids his blind father, or Falstaff hides in the laundry hamper, there would be sermons preached on it in pulpits all over the country. It is impossible for a good actor, as we know good actors today, to handle a Shakespearean low comedy part, for it demands mugging and tricks which no good actor would permit himself to do. If Shakespeare were alive today and writing comedy for the movies, he would be the head-liner in the Mack Sennett studios. What he couldn't do with a cross-eyed man!”—American humorist and actor Robert Benchley (1889-1945), “Looking Shakespeare Over,” in Pluck and Luck (1925)

(The image accompanying this post is of 14-year-old Mickey Rooney as Puck in the all-star 1935 Warner Brothers adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The young sprite—Rooney, that is—made the most of his opportunity to ham it up, much like Benchley envisioned.)

No comments: