On Hearing Shakespeare
discovered Shakespeare about the time I discovered movies. There was a TV show, “Saturday Showboat,” that presented what then were already “old movies,” and one morning it was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Max Reinhardt’s 1935 adaptation of Shakespeare’s great comedy. Reinhardt had directed it the year before on stage at the Hollywood Bowl.
I was about 8 or 9 years old at the time and, having rewatched the film several more times over the last six-plus decades, I can no longer recall how much of Shakespeare’s glorious language I actually understood in the 1950s.
But I do recall that at some point on that day I first watched the movie, my parents were chuckling about something silly a neighbor had done (backed his car into the garage without first opening the garage door, I think), and I’d said, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
Mom and Dad looked at me: questioning, amused.