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J.A.A. Purves

Chimes At Midnight (1965)

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(A&F links to The Best Shakespeare on Film, Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), Touch of Evil (1958) and The Trial (1962).)

 

So it's never been exactly easy to obtain a copy of this film.  I don't know how long it will last, but I thought it's worth pointing out that it is available now on YouTube.

 

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WOW!  Just...  wow!  I was able to catch this tonight in a quaint little theatre in Beverly Hills, that's being refurbished by the Laemmle theatre chain.  Thanks to Nathaniel for posting a pic on Twitter of the theatre's marquee, otherwise I would have missed this one night showing just like I missed the entire two week run Chimes at Midnight had at the Cinefamily in Hollywood in January.  I'm definitely going to pay for it tomorrow, sleep-wise, but it was well worth it.  What a miraculously beautiful print that Janus Films has presented.  I can't recommend this film enough, whether for lovers of Shakespeare, or lovers of Welles.  This is perhaps the greatest tribute to Shakespeare on film.  I can't wait to own this later in the year when this presentation is finally released to Blu-ray.

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Los Angeles folk - another chance to see Chimes at Midnight, along with F for Fake.  At the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, Friday May 6, at 7:30pm.

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Have you all seen this now? This was my most anticipated home video release for the year by a long shot. After finally getting to watch the film (I missed the brief appearance in Houston back in April) I can say affirmatively that the legend around this film as being one of Orson's very finest is well founded.

It's every bit as fantastic as advertised. Except for the sound recording (which is not as problematic as I was led to expect, thanks no doubt to the restoration efforts) the film is a triumph from a technical standpoint as well. It has none of the obvious limitations springing from budget issues that show in films like ARKADIN, or even B studio work like MACBETH or TOUCH OF EVIL. It's the culmination of a lifetime of filmmaking craft. (On my second viewing with the commentary, I did spot one shot where a microphone was in the side of the frame, which made me chuckle, especially since the film was entirely post-dubbed.)

The acting performances are all terrific. Welles is justly praised for his own performance, which manages to be both broadly comic and filled with nuance. His interpretation of the character of Falstaff expresses the fullness of pathos and humor present in a life lived to the full. John Gielgud is magisterial and cold, and as James Naremore says on the commentary track, he practically sings his lines, as they are read with such beauty. Keith Baxter is perfect for Welles's conception of this story as being in essence about a "friendship betrayed," as he moves between the worlds of the inn and the royal court with a mercurial grace.

Every composition seems effortlessly expressive, a continuation and refinement of the gorgeous photography that was a hallmark of THE TRIAL. The music gives just the right touches when employed. In short, it's so, so good. I'm so, so grateful to finally see it and own it on disc.

I've now watched through all the supplements, including the commentary track. They are good, and informative. The interviews with Keith Baxter (Prince Hal) and Beatrice Welles (Orson's daughter, who plays a page boy) are particularly interesting. If there is any complaint, it's only that such a historic work that was basically impossible to see for so long was not given better packaging, or at least a booklet rather than those annoying foldout posters with the essay. MR. ARKADIN gets a much better treatment for crying out loud! Still, the movie is the important thing, and it's gorgeously presented, at last, for us Welles lovers to enjoy forever.

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I tried to pick this up this weekend to replace my old DVD copy, but my local B&N didn't have it or The Immortal Story on Blu.

There's a good case to be made that Chimes is the best film Welles ever made and I'm very eager to see the restoration. I am, however, very disappointed in the Criterion cover art.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I'm planning on grabbing this soon so I can show the Battle of Shrewsbury sequence for a film aesthetics course. I'm sure it looks terrific in HD.

I agree that the cover art is underwhelming. But you've seen the U.S. one sheet, right? The one where Orson looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? Bizarre. 

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The packaging is not great, as I said, but the film looks fantastic, and sounds adequate. I never saw the old prints or copies, but all testimonies say this is an incredible rejuvenation.

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42 minutes ago, Nathaniel said:

I agree that the cover art is underwhelming. But you've seen the U.S. one sheet, right? The one where Orson looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? Bizarre. 

Yeah, it's pretty goofy.

This film did not ever have any genuinely good poster art.

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2 minutes ago, Ryan H. said:

Yeah, it's pretty goofy.

This film did not ever have any genuinely good poster art.

It never had a proper release really, so no need for a proper advertisement.

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