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Falstaff-Chimes At Midnight (a.k.a. Chimes at Midnight) [DVD] (1965)

Orson Welles , Jeanne Moreau , Orson Welles    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, John Gielgud, Margaret Rutherford, Marina Vlady
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Format: Dubbed, PAL, Black & White, Mono
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Cornerstone Media
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Feb 2011
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0049AASRM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,815 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Orson Welles considered this motion picture as among his finest work. The film is an amalgam of Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, and also Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. It is based on Welles's play Five Kings, an adaptation of four Shakespeare plays which he produced in 1939 and again in 1960. The film's narration, spoken by Ralph Richardson, is taken from the chronicler Raphael Holinshed. Orson Welles plays Sir John Falstaff. With the following incredible cast Jeanne Moreau Margaret Rutherford Keith Baxter John Gielgud Marina Vlady Fernando Rey Welles is uncompromising as the tragicomic Shakespearean character and many critics believe this is the greatest screen portrayal of Falstaff. Never before released on DVD this lost masterpiece contributes much to the appreciation of the great screen legend that is Orson Welles.


"Greatness...Here is a film to treasure" --Roger Ebert

"A dark masterpiece, shot through with slapstick and sorrow. Magic" --Time Out

"Welles majestic portrayal of Falstaff as 'the old England, dying and betrayed'" --Total Film

"A dark masterpiece, shot through with slapstick and sorrow. Magic" --Time Out

"Welles majestic portrayal of Falstaff as 'the old England, dying and betrayed'" --Total Film

"A dark masterpiece, shot through with slapstick and sorrow. Magic" --Time Out

"Welles majestic portrayal of Falstaff as 'the old England, dying and betrayed'" --Total Film

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chimes at Last 1 Jun 2009
Many a devotee of Orson Welles has struggled in vain to find a copy of his 1964/5 masterpiece, 'Falstaff', or 'Chimes at Midnight'. Its inaccessibility is an unusual and unjust fate for the preferred film one of the 20th century's finest directors. Speaking in a 1982 BBC interview, Welles cited 'Falstaff' as his favorite film. Despite its flaws, the peerless cinematic composition is matched by equally fine acting, and Welles' original adaptation of Shakespeare. Weaving together scenes from four different plays that include or mention Falstaff, the resulting text is a masterful interpretation of the Falstaff character.

This version awards the viewer with a clean, fine print. But it still suffers from the flaws of the original: deteriorated sound and poor subtitles. Viewers beware: many, including native anglophones, may prefer subtitles in English. Native and non-native speakers alike will find themselves out of luck: aside from Spanish subtitles, those in English are dreadful. They are not only inaccurate, but are often longer and more difficult to follow than the dialogue on screen.

The 'extras', such as they are, offer a few short texts in Spanish on the principal actors and the life of William Shakespeare, which are hardly worth the while. A series of interviews may well interest the viewer, provided she or he can follow, as all are conducted in Spanish with no subtitling available. On the whole, one would have hoped for a version of this film accessible to all the world. That might have been done through proper subtitling, and the inclusion of extras that reflect on the work of Welles, rather than an exclusive focus on the film's production in Spain.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is purely a review of the new Mr Bongo DVD release of Orson Welles' 1965 film "Falstaff" (aka "Chimes at Midnight") released on the 30th of April 2012. I have bought two previous DVD releases of this superb Welles film only to be bitterly disappointed by the extremely poor quality of both. However, as the saying goes, third time lucky. I took the plunge with this new Mr Bongo version. I have previously bought several DVD releases from Mr Bongo and have been pretty impressed by them all, and now I can add their DVD release of "Falstaff" to that list as its an enormous improvement over the others. The image is anamorphic widescreen (enhanced for widescreen televisions) preserving the original 1.85:1 ratio and the grey tones and contrast are impressive. My only very slight concern is the image can appear a little soft at times, but that may be due to the original print used and may be how the film looked theatrically. There are no extras at all and no subtitles, but as far as bare bones DVDs are concerned, the film is really all you need as its quite excellent. The Mr Bongo release is the one to go for. There is no contest.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hail to a masterpiece - despite the DVD quality 21 Jan 2011
One of the finest of all Shakespeare films, and perhaps Orson Welles's masterpiece too, we have been waiting a very long time for "Chimes at Midnight" to appear on an English-produced DVD. Here it is at last.

Has it been worth the wait? For the film of course, yes. The acting, the cinematic imagination, the multi-layered panorama of Shakespeare's themes from the two "Henry IV" plays (with a little from "Henry V" and elsewhere added) from which Welles collated his script - all these are as wonderfully fresh, vivid and rich as when the film first appeared in 1965. "Chimes at Midnight" captures Welles himself as Falstaff at the height of his powers. John Gielgud was never better on film than here, as the tormented Henry IV; whilst the support from Keith Baxter's cold-fish Hal, Margaret Rutherford, Jeanne Moreau, Fernando Rey (dubbed into English) and the rest of a superb cast rises fully to his game.

This Cornerstone Media release uses the same basic restoration as the Spanish/English release Chimes at Midnight (Campanadas a medianoche) [Spanish Import] [DVD] on Suevia Films, so sound and image are not crystal clear. What's disappointing, is that cornerstone have reduced the contrast so that scenes which looked reasonably bold and vibrant in the Spanish release look pale and washed out here. This is a great pity, and the Suevia Films Chimes at Midnight (Campanadas a medianoche) [Spanish Import] [DVD] release is therefore still first choice, although the newcomer has the virtue of being a little cheaper and easier to find.

This film should be in the collection of everyone who cares about Shakespeare, Welles, or the art of cinema itself.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welles' often overlooked minor masterpiece 22 May 2009
I first saw this film on the BBC back in the early 80's and have been looking out for it ever since. It's Welles' tribute to Merrie England and features his portrayal of Falstaff. It was filmed in Spain with an international cast and had Swiss/Swedish backing.
All of which sounds distinctly odd, but it's a triumph. The fight scenes were filmed in a public park in Madrid and have an immediacy and fascination that many big budget films would struggle to match. A memorable film by a great film-maker, who overcame many obstacles to make it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Chimes of Midnight flashing 2 Mar 2011
By technoguy VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I last saw this masterpiece 36 years ago in an art cinema in London,The Electric.Then I remember the print was shakey,the sound out of sync,but I got its essence.This is the film Welles really wanted to make above all others.The film has been out of circulation for 35 years,obtainable in only Brazilian and Spanish prints.The larger-than-life character that flits through various of his plays,Henry IV parts I and II and The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry V, based on the real Jack Oldcastle. Welles took the scenes from the different plays Falstaff is in and makes him the hero,he weaved multiple plays together to create a new narrative.Now its been released in this DVD February 2011 as Falstaff Chimes at Midnight.Richardson narrates the film from Holinshed's Chronicles.

The title comes in the elegiac opening.Originally Falstaff said it to his aging friend Justice Shallow. However, there is a degree of tragedy and sadness around this as well: Shallow and his ancient kinsman Silence represent the rural happiness and content with life that Falstaff can never really have, and when Falstaff tells him,"We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow" it becomes nostalgic and almost tragic to think at what all this man's been through and enjoyed.Welles exudes real warmth and humanity.This is the closest Shakespeare ever came to a representation of his early Stratford life on stage.

Henry IV(Gielgud) is a careworn King,troubled by his son's (Prince Hal's) waywardness and his usurper role as Bolingbroke.Unable to expiate his crime by the threat of civil war.Prince Hal beguiles the time in the company of Falstaff,drinking in taverns and plotting practical jokes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars `Banish plump Jack and banish all the world`
This sparkling print courtesy of Mr Bongo in its original evocative black & white allows us to see, despite its minor flaws, a masterpiece, and arguably the greatest Shakespeare... Read more
Published 5 months ago by GlynLuke
5.0 out of 5 stars Chimes at Midnight - Welles improves on Shakespeare
Orson Welles's 1966 movie is a magisterial exercise in direction and cinematic storytelling, the work of a genius at the height of his rage and power: a mighty man of art squaring... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tobias Churton
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A first rate addition to my library. I even thought that the style had in some way had influenced the recent "Hollow Crown".
Published 10 months ago by David A Millard
5.0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles the American Laurence Olivier
As my heading says I feel that Orson Welles was the Laurence Olivier of the American acting profession. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. J. A. Heath
5.0 out of 5 stars A master story teller inside another
Shakespeare, the dramatist shaped and configured by another dramatist, some beautiful images, earthy credibility, rich characters so the film isn't pure Shakespeare - the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. A. Cathcart
5.0 out of 5 stars Great item!
A really excellent item competitively priced and with reasonable postal charges for an overseas customer quickly posted - top marks!
Published 15 months ago by David W. Bishop
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Quality
I have been searching for this on DVD for a long time.
I previously purchased a Korean DVD with Korean Subtitles - it worked, because it gave me the chance to see it, but it... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Topperking99
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph for Orson Welles as director and actor
King Henry IV (John Gielgud) is deeply concerned with his son's (Keith Baxter) lack of interest in his Princely duties. Read more
Published on 14 May 2012 by The CinemaScope Cat
5.0 out of 5 stars inspired by the work of William Shakespeare
Falstaff: Chimes at Midnight is considered to be one of the best Shakespearean films ever made. It is directed by and stars Orson Wells, with Wells playing the part of Falstaff. Read more
Published on 5 May 2012 by Richard J. Brzostek
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for review
I'm sorry I am not reviewing this dvd release. I'm hoping someone will review this Mr. Bongo release of Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight). Read more
Published on 2 May 2012 by K. Beck
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