Orson Welles on playing Falstaff and reaching his artistic maturity with CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT
Reading Simon Callow's perceptive two books on King Henry IV, Part One and Part Two made me want to revisit Welles masterpiece, Chimes at Midnight. In doing so, I also looked at one of the best interviews Welles ever gave about a single movie, his long talk with Juan Cobos and Miguel Rubio that was first printed in the Spanish film magazine, Griffith.
Since Juan had worked as an assistant director to Welles on the film, he was in the perfect position to ask especially interesting questions about Welles's shooting techniques. For his own part, Welles was in an wonderfully expansive mood, as he had studied the history plays at least since his 1938 production of Five Kings, and clearly was in his element, knowing his subject like the true Shakespearian scholar he was. What I found especially interesting in re-reading the interview, was realizing how abridged it was when it first appeared in Sight and Sound's Autumn, 1966 issue. This fact became clear when I looked at a second version of the interview that appeared later in Cahier du Cinema in English. Almost like a Welles film, the two interviews are very different translations and often contain completely different comments. So below, I have taken the liberty of combining the two and also have re-arranged the order of the questions and answers.
Interestingly enough, when talking to Juan Cobos, he told me he thought he still had the master tapes of the interview, which obviously would make for a fabulous audio commentary for any eventual DVD release of the film. Or, if the sound quality of the tapes wasn't up to snuff, an actor like Simon Callow could "play" the voice of Orson Welles for a DVD commentary track---if the daunting rights issues can ever be worked out!
Meanwhile for your visual enjoyment you can see a set of twenty beautiful German lobby cards for Falstaff HERE.
Finally, like Falstaff's banishment, Chimes at Midnight was to become Orson Welles own banishment from filmmaking on an epic scale. Over forty years later, it seems inconceivable to me that this poetic masterpiece, a film that is clearly among the greatest movies ever made and one that Welles himself felt was his greatest work, still remains so unknown and unseen.
To understand why, one only has to look at this letter written by Sir John Gielgud, from Cannes on May 13, 1966:
I talked to Sol Levine (another of those (Sam) Spiegel--(Mike) Todd --(Otto) Preminger--film tycoons), about the possibility of getting backing for my film idea for The Tempest, with Orson Welles (as director). He (Levine) was gracious and seemed interested but unless Chimes at Midnight gets better notices elsewhere than the one in The New York Times, which is very damning, I fear no one will risk (Orson) for another Shakespeare picture.
After reading John Gielgud's "damning" indictment of The New York Times assessment of Chimes at Midnight, one has to wonder what Welles was expected to do to get further backing to make movies.
Give up Shakespeare and go back to making thrillers like The Deep? Do a remake of War of the Worlds starring Charlton Heston? Make sherry wine commercials?
To quote Pauline Kael (who was herself quoting a young Afro-American woman), "There just ain't no way." Which essentially describes Welles commercial career after Chimes at Midnight opened and quickly closed wherever it played, although at least it did do slightly better than Othello in America, in that it actually played in about a dozen cities.
In retrospect, it seems like there was just no way Welles was going to to able to make a commercially successful movie as he so often dreamed about doing, during the last twenty years of his life.
Instead, he had to emulate Shakespeare and do wine commercials, as he so prophetically notes in this YouTube clip from The Dean Martin Show of September 26, 1968. Welles gives a marvelous talk about Sir John Falstaff while making himself up as plump Jack, and then delivers "Shakespeare's first and greatest commercial on the subject of booze"---Falstaff's witty speech about the benefits of Sherry Sack.
ORSON WELLES on directing CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT
By JUAN COBOS and MIGUEL RUBIO
Did you do much work before you began shooting on Chimes at Midnight?
ORSON WELLES: Yes, I did a stack of research. But I had already worked on that period earlier, so I knew it rather well. But after you have done that research, the elements of that research are only a preparation, because the drama itself fixes the universe in which it is going to unroll. So you must not make museum pieces; you must create a new period. You must invent your own England, your own period, starting from what you have learned.
What importance do you give to the setting of the film?
ORSON WELLES: Very much, obviously. But a setting ought not to appear perfectly and solely real...
There is a rather stylized and unreal feeling about a scene like the robbery at Gadshill, so it ends up looking a bit like a set.
ORSON WELLES: Oh, that's sad to hear. Really? Well, to an extent I wouldn't object to that criticism... to an extent. I may have to submit to the criticism, because it may be true, but I regret it if the countryside doesn't seem real. But it mustn't seem perfectly real. In other words, one of the enemies of film are the simple, banal facts: a tree, or a rock looks to us, just as it looks to anybody who takes a picture of his family through a camera on Sundays. So we must be able, thanks to the photography and the lighting, and all of that, to be able to transform the real, to charge it with a character, sometimes with a glamour, sometimes with an attraction or a mystery that it does not possess. In this sense, the real must be treated like a setting. I feel there is an aesthetic problem that is almost never resolved in period films. I don’t know why I say "almost." I ought to say never in the history of the cinema, with the exception of some films of Eisenstein, whose films I do not particularly admire in themselves, but which resolved that problem with the external world outside—the sky with its clouds, the trees, and so on, which have nothing to do with the settings; therefore it matters little whether they are convincing or not, papier-mâché or magnificent, and whether the actors are in period costume or not, because when they mount on horseback and ride off toward a place, suddenly it’s a location, and you feel the trucks behind them and everything. I don’t know why, but everything seems banal and modern. You feel that at some moment a jet plane can cross the sky. I am always aware of the inauthenticity of a period, from the fact that the actors are in costumes and have a false look when they are in a natural setting. I believe this can be resolved and I think I resolved it, in a way, on Othello and even more so here. What I have tried to do is to see the outside, the real world, through the same eyes as the inside, fabricated one, in order to create a kind of unity. Normally, you see an actor correctly wearing a perfect costume; everything looks right; then he goes outside and suddenly it becomes a rented costume. The only movies where that comes off are westerns and Japanese films, which are like westerns because they belong to a tradition. A hundred samurai films are made every year, and a hundred westerns, but they are founded on a tradition in which costumes and nature have learned to live in juxtaposition, so one can believe them. In Henry V, on the contrary, people leave the castle on horseback and suddenly they meet again on a golf course, charging at one another and you cannot escape it, they have entered another world.
The seventy minutes we have seen of your Don Quixote seems to translate just that ideal kind of world that Cervantes dreamed of for his characters.
ORSON WELLES: That's the problem, isn't it? The people must live in their world. It is a fundamental problem for the filmmaker, even when you are making apparently the most ordinary modern story. But particularly when you have a great figure of myth like Quixote, even like Falstaff, a silhouette against the sky of all time. These are people who have more life in them than any human being ever had. But you can't simply dress up and be them, you have to make a world for them.
You originally had certain ideas about the photographic look of Chimes at Midnight, a kind of grading which would give the images almost the quality of an old engraving. In the first print we saw, you used this for the credit titles, which came up over the characters present at the coronation. Why did you change this?
ORSON WELLES: They weren't able to do it in the lab. It would have produced an extraordinary effect, I think, and it's my great sorrow that it hasn't been done. In fact, the film would have been lit in a completely different way if I had known that this process was likely to fail.
The movie was originally going to open with the assassination of King Richard II and the landing of Henry Bolingbroke (John Gielgud) in England. Why did you change this? The part of the Bolingbroke scene that you shot was full of extraordinary visual ideas—all the flags, with the future King waiting by the campfire, cold and hungry.
ORSON WELLES: We shot one day of the assassination, and it didn't seem to me that the scene was sufficiently clear. Instead of explaining the political background, it tended to obscure it and confuse the audience. Also, four or five days work were necessary to complete it, and I didn't want to put the producer to that expense. The Bolingbroke scene looked very interesting, but that is what divides the men from the boys, the people who can really do it from the others. What a director must have is a capacity to throw out his most beautiful shots. A film is often ruined, in my opinion, by a director who can't bear to get rid of something just because it's beautiful. Do you remember the shots of the two old men, Falstaff and Shallow, walking in the snow? They were fine, marvelous shots, but I took them out. Now, I could have indulged myself and had all the cinema clubs in the world say, “Look! How beautiful!” But those shots would have hurt the real, internal rhythm of the picture. And when things won't be as useful to the total film as you expected, then you must be willing to abandon them immediately. A film is made as much with what one takes away as with what is put into it.
(Ironically, although Welles took the shots of Falstaff and Justice Shallow out of the main body of the picture, he still used them for the prologue, replacing the intended opening scene of the murder of King Richard II.)
Does it often happen that you cut scenes?
ORSON WELLES: During the shooting I sacrifice, what in my opinion, will not work, because it is too difficult, or unnecessary to the film as a whole, or else it’s boring. I am very easily bored. I think the public probably is, too. You people who love the cinema are not as easily bored by it as I am. In other words, if I had to make films only for people who fundamentally love the movies, then I could be longer, but I would be false doing that, because I believe the point of boredom is very easily reached. If it isn't reached this year, it will be later. It's one of the things that date films and make them seem old-fashioned, when you don't have the courage to keep it moving. I believe that films should be able lo tell a story quicker than any other medium. Instead the tendency in the last ten years particularly, has been to get slower and slower and for the director to indulge himself in visual ideas. If we don’t have speed, I think we are basically betraying the medium. But nowadays, serious directors are permitted to show the public anything they like, at any length. For example, at the end of the film, there is a scene that is not quite the same in Shakespeare, when Henry V gives orders that Falstaff be set free, while, at his back are the two traitors, the most relentless opponents of clemency. In Shakespeare the scene does not happen with Falstaff, nor are the two men there. Their attitude is typical: they are political connivers of the palace, the eternal palace schemers. I do not know whether the audience notices this detail, which I think is important. But I don’t like verbosity; I don't like wasted time. I like concentration in every art. And although I know that I may lose a great deal that way, as it risks letting some things pass unobserved, I also hope that the audience will see some of those details, as well as other, different details. If everything is very clear and precise, the film risks being very thin and I don’t like thin films. I don't want to criticize certain of my contemporaries, but there are some directors who are considered very great, who make one effect and only that effect. You can go back again ten times, and you will admire only the exact same thing again. I think a film should be full of things, details that one does not see the first time. It ought not to be entirely obvious. There should always be something else to see if you go again.
Sometimes you shoot a scene that seems perfect, but then you do it over again, although you scarcely ever look at the rushes.
Rushes are not important for me. And I do not shoot a new take in the sense in which one understands it in America; that is to say a shot that does not work for primarily technical reasons. In American one does it most of the time for that reason. As for me, I do a re-take because perhaps my purely personal work is not good enough. In other words, it is because it does not appear perfect to me, but I can only do that when I am working on the same set. I never go back for a retake on a set where I have finished shooting. That’s a luxury I can't indulge in. In Cardona, we didn't retake anything, because I had to finish John Gielgud's part in only two weeks. I knew when he left that we still had a great deal of work that remained, which we did later in Madrid using doubles. That wasn't second thoughts: I knew I would have to use doubles because I only had Gielgud for two weeks and he plays a part that runs almost as long as mine.
From reading the Shakespeare plays, one has the feeling that the film might have been happier than you eventually made it.
ORSON WELLES: It's a very sad story: perhaps it should be happier, and that may be a failure on my part. But I also think that it is funnier in the English version than in the Spanish. The Spanish version loses very little in the serious story, but there were difficulties in translating the jokes. In any case my character is less funny than I had hoped. This problem preoccupied me during the entire shooting. I had played the role three times on the stage before filming it and Falstaff appeared to me to be more witty than funny. Moreover, Falstaff is the most difficult role that I have ever played. I am still not convinced that I rendered it well. There are at least three scenes in the film that I would like to do over, from my point of view as an actor. However, one must be severe with oneself, when one is at the same time an actor and a director. So I don't think very highly of those moments in which I am only amusing. It seems to me that Falstaff is a man of wit rather than a clown. And as I said, Falstaff is a role that demands an enormous amount of work. It is a very difficult role.
Falstaff is a man defending a force—the old England—that is going down. What is difficult about Falstaff, I believe, is that he is the greatest conception of a good man, the most completely good man in all drama. His faults are so small and he makes tremendous jokes out of little faults. But his goodness is like bread, like wine. That was why I lost the comedy. The more I played it, the more I felt that I was playing Shakespeare's good, pure man. I can see that there are scenes which should be much more hilarious, but I directed everything and played everything with a view to preparing for the last scene, so the relationship between Falstaff and the Prince is no longer the simple comic one that it is in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One, but always a preparation for the end. And as you see, the farewell is performed about four times during the movie, as a preparation for the tragic ending: The death of Hotspur, which is that of Chivalry, the death of the King in his castle, the death of the Prince (who becomes King) and the poverty and illness of Falstaff. These are presented throughout the film and must darken it. I do not believe that comedy should dominate in such a film.
There is a wonderful moment after the play-acting at the tavern, when they are talking about Falstaff's banishment ("Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.”) and the Prince says, "I will"
ORSON WELLES: That's the clearest of all those farewells …What is fine in the character of the Prince, is that he is always Falstaff’s friend, but at every moment something lets one foresee his disgrace. That is where the fundamental idea lies and I have shown it more clearly than on the stage. Many theatre critics find that the banishment scene at the end of Henry IV Part 2, is too much, a little abrupt and improbable. That is merely because the play is often badly performed. I hope that in the film people will understand better what the Prince is going to do, that he must betray Falstaff. I do not believe that his speech will affront the audience.
The interesting thing about the story is the old King is a murderer. He has usurped the throne and yet he represents legitimacy. The story is extraordinary because Hal is a legitimate Prince who must betray a good man in order to become a hero, a famous English hero. The film speaks too, of the terrible price that the Prince must pay in exchange for power. In the historical writings, there is that balancing between the triangle of the King, his son, and Falstaff, who is a kind of foster father to Hal. In the plays, the other plot, that of Hotspur, is much longer and intricately constructed and is also very interesting. It keeps the triangle from dominating the situation. But in the film, which was made essentially in order to tell the story of the triangle, there are necessarily elements that cannot have the same existence as in the original works.
The film has become a kind of lament for Falstaff.
ORSON WELLES: Yes, perhaps that may be true. I would like for people to think that, although it was not intended as a lament for Falstaff alone, but as the death of “Merrie England.” Merrie England as a conception, a myth, which has been very real to the English–speaking world and is to some extent expressed in other countries of the medieval epoch. In a general way, it was the age of chivalry, of simplicity, of Maytime and all that. It is more than Falstaff who is dying. It's the old England, that is dying and betrayed.
The Magnificent Ambersons was also a lament for an era that has ended.
ORSON WELLES: Yes. Not so much for an age as for the sense of moral values that have been destroyed. In the case of The Magnificent Ambersons, it was destroyed by the automobile. In the case of Chimes at Midnight, by the interests of power, of duty, of responsibility, of national grandeur, all that kind of thing.
Many of your films are stories of a failure with a death in it.
Almost all serious stories in the world are stories of a failure with a death in it. But there is more lost paradise in them than defeat. To me that is the central theme in Western culture: the lost paradise.
Chimes at Midnight and The Magnificent Ambersons seem to be two of your most personal movies, perhaps because they are the most lyrical.
ORSON WELLES: Yes, I agree. I don’t know whether lyrical is the right word, but I put a more personal feeling, and a deeper emotion into these two films than into the others. People think that my films are cold and sometimes violent; but I believe that The Magnificent Ambersons and Chimes at Midnight represent more than anything what I would like to do in the cinema. Whether I have succeeded or not, I do not know; but that is the closest to what I have always wanted to say.
Do you think that there is a difference in style between Chimes at Midnight and your earlier films?
ORSON WELLES: People have always attributed a great deal of importance to the style of my films. Yet I don’t think that they are dominated by style. I have one, I hope, or several, but I am not essentially a formalist. The great majority of critics, whether they treat me well or badly, always treat me as a formalist and I’m not a formalist! I am most concerned with rendering a musical impression. Music and poetry. It’s that, rather than a mere rendering of visual imagination. The visual side comes out of a method of thinking, if thinking is the right word. I hate to use pompous words like “creating,” but I’m afraid you have to. For me, the visual aspect of my films is dictated by poetic and musical forms. I don’t begin with the visual and then try to find poetic or musical rhythms and try to paste them on to the film. The film ought to, on the contrary, follow that rhythm effortlessly. People tend to think my first preoccupation is with the visual, that only the visual interests me. To me, everything must come out of an inner rhythm. There are many "beautiful" things that I see every day in the film that I hadn’t even attempted to do, but I don’t stroll about like a collector choosing beautiful images and pasting them together.
Is creating that inner rhythm why the editing is so important for you?
ORSON WELLES: Yes, it is very central. I believe in the film as a poetic medium. I do not believe it competes with painting, or with ballet. The visual side is only a key giving it access to its poetry. There is no film that justifies itself, no matter whether it be beautiful, striking, terrifying or tender—it all signifies nothing, unless it makes poetry possible. And that suggests something, because poetry can make your hair stand up on your skin and evoke more than what you see. The danger in cinema is that, in using a camera, you see everything. Everything is there, so what you have to do is try to incant, or bring about a spell that makes things emerge that are not actually there.
Do you think you achieved that in Chimes at Midnight?
ORSON WELLES: I don’t know. I hope so. If so, I have reached my artistic maturity. If not, I am in decline, believe me. But what I am trying to bring about now in films, is not technical surprises or shocks, but a greater unity of form and shapes. The true form of cinema, the inner, musical form is one I believe that you can enjoy with your eyes closed; a blind man ought to be capable of enjoying a film. We all say, "The only true films are silent movies." But, in fact, cinema has been talking for forty years now, so we ought to say something in them, and when something is said, when there is sound and music, that ought to have—and I speak now, not of poetry, but only technically—a shape that is immediately recognizable, so that you see that the whole thing has a form, just as the image does. Above all, the idea, the personal view of the auteur of the film, ought to have a unique and total form.
During the filming of the battle sequence you made shots of considerable duration and then you shortened them in the editing.
ORSON WELLES: Yes. If you remember, on the first day I tried to shoot very short pieces, but I found the extras didn't work as well unless they had something connected to do. They didn't seem to be really fighting until they had time to warm up. That's why the takes were long, since there was no way of beginning the camera later and then cutting. But I knew I was only going to use very short cuts. For example, we shot with a big crane that was very low lo the ground, moving as fast as it could be moved to follow the action. What I was planning to do—and did—was to inter-cut the shots in which the action was contrary, so that every cut seemed to be a blow, a counterblow, a blow received, a blow returned. Actually it takes a lot of time for the crane to move over and back, but everything was planned for this effect and I never intended to use more than a small section of the arc in each case. Now the battle last about two minutes longer than I had thought beforehand. Maybe it is too extended; I don’t know.
The last scene at Justice Shallow's house, in which Pistol brings the news of Hal's accession, was originally shot in one five-minute take. Then you inter-cut it with shots of the King's castle, breaking it up and losing some minutes of the scene of the old men in front of the fire.
ORSON WELLES: I had a reason for that. I believe that as it is cut now, it tells the basic story better. If you are making a film in which you are not completely at the mercy of your narrative, then anything that is interesting can give itself its own length. The scene was in itself a good one; a little like a photographed scene from the theatre, and what remains now is what I thought was best about it. What was there before seemed to me to reduce the interest of the film after the big scene of the King’s death. In other words, what you had was something beautiful and well conceived that was admirable cinematically, but not dramatically.
When you are working, there is what you call a kind of orderly disorder on the set. The way, for instance, that you sometimes jump in shooting between one scene and another.
ORSON WELLES: There are several reasons for that. First of all what seems disorderly has a perfectly logical purpose. But in order to explain why I’m changing the scene would take ten minutes of conference. So I don’t explain and it seems like I am being capricious. When I’m outside, for example, the position of the sun determines everything, so I’ll pass suddenly from one sequence to another, or even to a sequence that was not planned for that day, if the light seems suitable to me. The sun is the most beautiful light in the world, and the way to make it beautiful is to film it at its best moment. That means jumping. You see, I do not begin to work saying to myself, "Today we will positively make this or that sequence," so if suddenly the sunlight is suitable for another scene, the only way to make my sequences beautiful is to shoot at that exact moment. Those are the technical reasons for the "ordered disorder."
Then, on the other hand, it sometimes happens that the actors are not at their best on the day planned. You feel that they would be better another day, in another atmosphere. Things are not coming off. Then you must change and that is to everyone's advantage. When all the lighting is in position, to change everything in order to pass to the next scene would a cause considerable loss of time, so I confuse everybody else by jumping to the next thing I know we can shoot. You know that I like to work fast, and I think you will agree that the disorder doesn’t mean that we work slowly. I believe, on the contrary, that it is desperately necessary to work quickly.
If things aren’t going well, you sometimes shoot in a way to get a feeling of improvisation.
ORSON WELLES: In films we are, in a way, always beggars. We stand, hands outstretched, hoping that manna will fall from heaven. At times one shoots thinking that God will put something into one's plate; sometimes he does and then one seizes it. Sometimes things are not in a perfect working state and I shoot all the same. I do not think that it makes a great difference. As you know, I am in a certain way a maniac, a perfectionist, but in many other aspects, not at all. When I’ve worked with ordinary commercial directors, people whose pride it is to be technically fast and efficient, they go over things, many things, more than I do. If I were directing the scene I would say, “all right, that’s it,” because I always leave some rough edges. I don’t believe that a film is to be made like those paintings in which people paint every leave on a tree, one by one. I can work and work on a moment in an actor's performance, or wait and wait until the light is correct, but in general I shoot sooner and I’m satisfied sooner. I work much more crudely than many directors. It may be that an assistant director is still running about, but I don’t care. I still go ahead. I believe that it contributes toward keeping a living aspect to the film. The terrible danger for a film is to say "Very well, all right,” and having a silence or a long pause—all those formalistic gestures that have ceremony. Then people try to pull themselves together and make a little moment that’s true, after it has been framed in this deathly, mechanical silence. I try to keep a little of the feeling of improvisation, of conversation. Ordinarily, I also have music on the set. Not here, because I had difficulties with the technical aspects of the organization, on account of the dimensions of the film and the difficulties of my own role, of the costumes, and so on. I had to be much more austere than usual. But almost always, when I am on the set, there is music, to try to make people forget that they are in the process of making a film—in the ordinary sense of the word.
During the shooting I also eliminate everything that could slow it down. I have found that three departments—sound, continuity and make-up—take about an hour between them each day. On my films, the sound engineer does not have the right to ask that a shot be remade. The only thing that he has to do is to catch the sound. The script girl, however good she may be, never has the right to speak. If, without speaking, she wants to shift something, all right, but she must never speak. If one doesn’t let those people speak, one gains an hour of shooting. I warn my collaborators at the start that they are not going to like the film because they will not be able to do their work on it, that I will not let them do it. I say to them, "Stay, but you know that you are going to be second class citizens and that nobody will ever ask you if “that all right with you?”
Also, there is almost no makeup in my films. I think it’s bad. I almost never use it except to change the appearance of a face or someone's age; otherwise, no makeup. In fact, I believe that I was the first director not to use it. There is none in Citizen Kane, except for the character that I played. That was the first time, I believe, or perhaps The Grapes of Wrath. I think that makeup is bad for films. That is what the cameramen think, too. If you take a referendum among all the good cameramen in the world asking them what they think of makeup, I promise you that ninety-eight percent of them will be against it. But the cameramen do not want to take the responsibility of attacking the occupation of the makeup man. That is why they don’t go to the director and ask him, "why all that makeup?" They let people go on smearing themselves, which is pointless.
Ten years ago in Edinburgh you said “I do not know if a happy marriage can exist between Shakespeare and the screen.”
ORSON WELLES: When I made that remark, I was trying to please my audience. That was surely demagogy. I had to give a two-hour lecture to an audience that had not liked my Macbeth. So one had to make friends with them and the first thing that I could do was to admit that I agreed with them in part about Macbeth, and in a way that was true. That is because, besides the period reconstruction, there is another problem with Shakespeare, that of the text. When he wrote as one did in the time of Lope de Vega, or rather in the time of Shakespeare—because England is richer from that point of view than a Latin Language—he did so for an audience which did not see, but which was able to hear. Just as the cinema audience today sees everything, but hears nothing. Shakespeare wrote in that sense and there is, in what he says, a close texture that one cannot change. That is what can make him difficult for the audience of today. For example, one cannot expect that a popular audience will appreciate the King’s speech on sleep in Chimes at Midnight, unless one is dealing with an English audience. In English, the text possesses a power and a magic that is able to transfix two thousand G.I.’s in Viet Nam, but translated into French or Spanish it can fail in its effect completely. Nothing can be done about it. So you must understand that every time you come to a speech of that kind you must fail, except in English. You just have to sit still and say, “Well, we lost it.” Luckily this picture only has one speech like that; but you cannot cut it merely on the pretext that it will not be effective other than in English. Even if it is not a high moment of the film, it is indispensable for understanding what is happening in the mind of the Prince. Perhaps one should cut it in versions other than the English. I don’t think the rest of the film poses similar problems, or at least I hope not!
CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT -- THE CAST
****THE BOAR’S HEAD TAVERN IN EASTCHEAP****
Sir John Falstaff Orson Welles
Doll Tearsheet Jeanne Moreau
Mistress Quickly Margaret Rutherford
Justice Shallow Alan Webb
Master Silence Walter Chiari
Ned Poins Tony Beckley
Pistol Michael Aldridge
Bardolf Paddy Bedford
Peto Fernando Hilbert
Sheriff of Eastcheap Juan Esterlrich
Falstaff's page Beatrice Welles
****THE COURT OF KING HENRY THE FOURTH****
King Henry IV (Henry Bolingbroke) John Gielgud
Hal, the Prince of Wales (later King Henry V) Keith Baxter
Prince John of Lancaster Jeremy Rowe
Earl of Westmoreland Andrew Faulds
Lord Chief Justice Charles Farrell
****REBEL FORCES LOYAL TO EDMUND MORTIMER****
Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester Fernando Rey
Harry Percy (known as Hotspur) Norman Rodway
Lady Kate Percy Marina Vlady
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland Jose Nieto
Sir Richard Vernon Andres Mejuto
Narration from Holinshed's Chronicles read by Ralph Richardson