After the fiasco of Cleopatra which forced 20th Century Fox to the brink of bankruptcy, Hollywood insiders thought Franco Zeffirelli was crazy for casting Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in this film about an out-of-control woman finding marital happiness. But Zeffirelli was convinced that the couple had special box office magic. Aside from that obvious quality, Burton and Taylor are wonderful as the warring Petruchio and Katharina. With the support of well-known British and Shakespearean actors such as Michael Holdern, Cyril Cusack, Victor Spinetti, and Michael York, and relatively unknown Italian actors, the film is done in the style for which Zeffirelli would become famous: serious attention to historical detail and a lively, clear pace. The film opens with a street carnivale that captures all the excitement of the first day at university. As the story progresses, Zeffirelli includes Burton and Taylor in a rooftop chase in the 'wooing' scene, an outrageously funny 'tailor' scene, and a stunning 'moon-sun' scene. But perhaps the most impressive scene, however, is the final one in which Kate delivers her 'submission' speech. Taylor is not only beautiful but an effective Shakespeare actor who brings warmth and pathos to the difficult role. Zeffirelli does allow a few extra-textual liberties, but they never detract from the text or the film. In his autobiography, Zeffirelli considered the making of the film as one of his best experiences in filmmaking. It shows in this wonderful entertainment. - J.R. Costa
Cast: Katharina: Elizabeth Taylor; Petruchio: Richard Burton; Grumio: Cyril Cusack; Baptista: Michael Holdern; Tranio: Alfred Lynch; Gremio: Alan Webb; Priest: Giancarlo Cobelli; Pedant: Vernon Dobtcheff; Tailor: Ken Parry; Haberdasher: Anthony Gardner; Bianca: Natasha Pyne; Lucentio: Michael York; Hortensio: Victor Spinetti; Biondello; Roy Holder; Vincentio: Mark Dignam; The Widow: Bice Valori; Nathaniel: Alberto Bonucci.
Director: Franco Zeffirelli; Writers: Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Paul Dehn, William Shakespeare, Franco Zeffirelli; Producer: Richard McWhorter; Production Companies: FAI (IT), Royal Films International.
Colour. Runtime: 122 mins.
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