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First I watched The Taming of the Shrew, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It was wonderful even if I felt the director Zeffirelli broke up more furniture than necessary to convey how shrewish Kate was, but this clip shows how marvelously it was done. Then of course Petruchio laughed far too much, to prove how overmuch bravado he had, but then Burton has such a hearty laugh with just enough touch of malice as to be churlish and believable.

The second viewing of The Taming of the Shrew was with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. It was done in 1929, in black and white, and was one of the first movies with a sound track. The sound was surprisingly good quality, and I had no trouble understanding the dialogue. The main problem was they cut the movie to an hour, which meant that Shakespeare’s dialogue suffered greatly and the story was intermittent. All the same it was fun to watch these thespians strut their stuff.

The third Taming Of Shrew was by the Santa Barbara Shakespeare Series theatrical group. It was far closer to the original Shakespeare text, and thus brought out far more verbal subtleties than the others. The story, the words and the conflicts made infinitely more sense when the whole play is presented. There was only a little verbal one-upsmanship in the first two, but the verbal battles were what brought them together and made them see each other as worthy partners. Later after their marriage there are intense domination scenes of Kate by Petruchio, but exceedingly willful Kate learns to dominate him by voluntary submission to his whims. There is a superb soliloquy at the end where Kate subtly lays out her technique.

There are many Taming of the Shrews, but these are a great start.

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