Film: 714

Feature Drama | 1930 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

Shakespeare's Hamlet with actor John Barrymore. Test shots with Barrymore giving soliloquies on stage. Also the father's ghost scene. Hamlet: Barrymore (1930s)
Caption: Test No 7. from Hamlet – Mr John Barrymore (A).
Caption; Fade IN
An actor stands in costume of the King Claudius, on a stage in front of satiny curtains – indistinct sound but can probably be boosted – he is doing a soliloquy from the tragedy – Scene iii, which begins: But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murder?'
That cannot be; since I am still possess'd(55)
Of those effects for which I did the murder—
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen etc.,

He kneels as the speech continues and the camera moves in closer and John Barrymore as Hamlet, Prince of Denmark appears, rather fumblingly from behind the curtain, dressed in theatrical tights carrying a sword at his side, he considers the kneeling king. Now we see Barrymore in a closer shot and he continues the scene, watching the praying King – he unseafs his sword. Having drawn his sword he approaches the King. We see the King from behind, praying in front of a crucifix mounted on the wall. Back to Hamlet who says that he will kill the villain for having killed his father. Close shot of John Barymore. Barrymore continues his soliloquy behind the kneeling King. Shot of the King in front of the crucifix again. Hamlet fondles his dagger thoughtfully and then puts his sword back into its sheath, saying he will not kill the King while he might gain forgiveness, being in the act of praying, but will wait to kill him at a time when redemption is not forthcoming – so his soul is “Damned and black”. Hamlet disappears behind the curtain again as Claudius stirs and stands now we can see him in rather villainous make-up – thick dark eyebrows and goatie beard – he clutches a crucifix which is around his neck and says his thoughts may “never to heaven go” – then he turns and walks behind the curtain. Caption: Fade Out. Caption: Test No 7 from Hamlet – Mr John Barrymore, Mr Reginald Denny< Mr Donald Crisp. Caption: Fade In. We see the battlements of the castle at Elsinore as a soldier in metal helmet stands there (Act I, scene iv) and looks out as two men arrive dressed in cloaks and hoods. A closer shot of the men in hoods who start, having seen something. We see a stone wall and then the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears in front of it. Hamlet discards his cloak and addresses the ghost of his father “Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned, Bring with thee airs from heaven or blast from Hell, Be thy intents wicked or ...etc., Hamlet kneels and addresses his father – he assumes a praying position. We now see a close profile of Barrymore as Hamlet addressing the ghost of his father – again the eyebrows are quite theatrical – good face acting. Now we see the soldier in armour and Horatio standing watching. Back to the profile of Barrymore. Horatio, still in his cloak and the soldier watch and Horatio says the ghost is beckoning Hamlet to go with it. Hamlet kneeling stands and makes to follow. Horatio holds Hamlet back as the soldier watches – Hamlet says he will follow but Horatio is not sure this is wise saying: What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o'er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other, horrible form 705
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? “ –
The soldier seems to agree with Horatio and moves to restrain the prince – Hamlet gets angry with them and throws them off – he unsheathes his sword, holds it in front of him and says he will follow – he mounts some steps moving towards the apparition. Caption: Fade Out.


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