Romeo and Juliet ★★½

Embarrassingly miscast, obviously; I dislike Leslie Howard at the best of times and he's completely ridiculous here (but not as ridiculous as John Barrymore, whose Mercutio makes it difficult to believe his Shakespeare performances on stage deserved their legend, though I'm sure they did), while the terrific Norma Shearer wastes away in such an inappropriate role -- look, the thing is, anybody can play any part within reason, but this specific play loses every bit of its tenuous emotion when robbed of the haunting youth of its leads. The usual MGM opulence is everywhere -- lots of amazing deep focus photography -- and you can hardly ruin this text, but there are innumerable superior options if you want to see this story on film. (It was especially hard to get past how stilted and awkward this is after re-watching the Moonlighting episode "Atomic Shakespeare," which brilliantly sends up The Taming of the Shrew, earlier the same evening.)