A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream ★★½

First and most importantly, the direction in which Max Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream took Puck made me wish violence upon everyone involved, and very nearly ruined the entire movie for me.

Achieving the incredibly difficult task of looking past that massive, nearly ever present issue, it's certainly a wild mess of a major studio film, but at worst, I guess it's an interesting one. Though Olivia de Havilland tends to get most of the attention (not unreasonably) for her presence and performance, I really loved Victor Jory's dark, from-another-movie presence, as well as his scary minions with their leathery wing-wings.

In addition, I am very biased, but I'd argue that Jean Muir is awfully good, particularly in the one scene in which Helena briefly enjoys the power she suddenly has over Lysander and as Demetrius, and starts slyly egging them on in their anger at Hermia. (Oh, if only Muir had been cast in more roles that allowed her to be a little manipulative, and just the slightest bit nasty!) Plus James Cagney is an unmitigated delight, no matter what's going on or what he's asked to do, and Joe E. Brown was surprisingly effective and affecting. And, of course, getting to see Cagey and Frank McHugh together is always a gift.

I can't imagine ever watching this again, but I'm glad I finally forced myself to sit down and make it all the way through.

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