Romeo and Juliet (1968) Directed by Franco Zeffirelli from the play by William Shakespeare. Michael York as Tybalt and Bruce Robinson as Benvolio

Tybalt: What? Art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? (Draws sword) Turn thee, Benvolio. Look upon thy death.
Benvolio: I do but keep the peace. Now, put away your sword or manage it to part these men with me.
Tybalt: What, drawn and you talk of peace? I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward!

8 Responses to “Romeo and Juliet (1968) – Happy 70th Birthday, Michael York”

  1. An unforgettable exchange from one of the most popular films based on a Shakespeare work. I’ve seen the film in my life as much as I’ve seen any other film for various work-related reasons, and I’ve been eternally ravished by Nino Rota’s score and the cedlebrated cinemotography by Pasquelino de Santis and costume design by Danilo Donati, both of which won Oscars in 1968, a year when the film was edged out for the Best Picture prize by OLIVER!.

    I well remember as a teen ager being smitten in June 1969 by Henri Mancini’s instrumental rendition of the main theme, which miraculously at a time of hard rock reached the Number 1 position on WABC Radio and on Billboard.

    Zeffirelli’s operatic eye produced a stunning and colorful set design and he wooed the young by casting young actors Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey.

    As far as Michael York, whom you feature here, he may well have given his best career turn as the bully Tybalt.

  2. I love it when Benvolio goes on to say, “Oh, yeah? You wanna piece of this? Let’s take it outside, Nancy!”

  3. One of the most stunning film adaptations of a Shakespeare play ever. Amazing cast, loved Michael York in this (and man was he handsome), and Romeo and Juliet were both gorgeous.

  4. Haha, Jeanine. I think you saw a different version :)

    Sam, you may have been smitten by Mancini’s score, but as a lad I was smitten by Olivia Hussey!

    It was an interesting choice for Zeffirelli to pick unseasoned, relatively untrained and unknown actors for the leads, but I think it works on screen. You could get away with older actors on stage, but not so much on the big screen.

    Alison, I’m not sure I have an all time favorite Shakespeare adaption, but I love Polanski’s bloody version of Macbeth and Kurosawa’s for that matter (Throne of Blood), not to mention Kurosawa’s Ran.

    I also have fond memories of the spin they put on Taming of the Shrew on Moonlighting. :)

    As a pure adaptation though, it’s hard to top this one for a lot of reasons. It’s a wee bit corny at times, but it suits the play.

  5. lol, Moonlighting.

    I’ve never seen Polanski’s version of Macbeth, but the two Kurosawa films are terrific. I also remember liking, though it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen it, the version of Hamlet with Mel Gibson as Hamlet, Helena Bonham-Carter as Ophelia (I remember her being particularly good), Glenn Close, and a bunch of other terrific actors.

  6. Also, Olivia Hussey was beautiful in this movie. So was Leonard Whiting.

  7. They were definitely not hard to look at.

    I’m also a fan of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. Olivier’s too.

  8. I also love both Branagh’s and Olivier’s version of HENRY V, and concur that Polanski’s MAC BETH and those two Kurosawa’s would rank high.

    I’d venture to add Welles’ CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, Olivier’s RICHARD III, Welles’ MAC BETH and OTHELLO, Mankiewitz’ JULIUS CAESAR, Olivier’s HAMLET, Branagh’s HAMLET, and Finnes’ recent CORIOLANUS to the mix.

    Olivier’s KING LEAR, and the two Russian films by Kotnisev, HAMLET and LEAR belong in the group as well.

    And Craig, be rest assured I was quite smitten with Ms. Hussey as well. Ha!

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