Taming of the Shrew, The (1967)

The Taming of the Shrew (1967), directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

"Of all things living a man's the worst!"

A rich and bawdy slapstick romp, written by the master of romantic comedies. As we all know, Renaissance Italy was non-stop partying, packed with colorful characters charging through streets simultaneously grimy and shining.

Richard Burton is a perfect Petruchio, the blustering blowhard who actually delivers the goods. Physically, Elizabeth Taylor is fine as Kate, particularly in the heaving bosom aspect. She's a bit older, a bit heavier, but that fits the cursed and nightmarish older sister role. Her line delivery is not quite as good, but mostly it's shouting and so doesn't much matter. She shows great talent in comic mugging and awkwardness that I don't remember seeing before.

I always like Michael Hordern and here he's great as the harassed father of the two girls. And: "introducing Michael York" as the young lover.

Given their notorious off-screen reputation as a celebrity fighting couple, it was either very bold or shrewdly calculating (or both) for Burton and Taylor to take on roles like these and in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) They deserve credit for giving Zeffirelli his first feature film as director.

Nino Rota score.

According to Shakespeare at the Movies, by Douglas Brode:


It's worth noting that Taylor and Burton produced the film themselves, contributing their considerable salaries to cover growing expenses. Not surprisingly, then, there were none of the temperamental scenes that, three years earlier, caused Cleopatra to go grotesquely over budget. Forsaking late-night drinking bouts, the two concentrated on making the best possible picture at the most economical price.