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Stage Beauty [DVD]

Price: £5.61 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Stage Beauty [DVD] + Compleat Female Stage Beauty + Romeo and Juliet (Penguin Shakespeare)
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Product details

  • Actors: Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Rupert Everett, Derek Hutchinson, Mark Letheren
  • Directors: Richard Eyre
  • Writers: Jeffrey Hatcher
  • Producers: Amir Jacob Malin, Hardy Justice, James D. Stern, Jane Rosenthal, Jill Tandy
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Momentum Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 27 Dec. 2004
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006FGHUQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,842 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Lively period drama set in 17th century London, based on the play by Jeffrey Hatcher and directed by Richard Eyre. Billy Crudup stars as Ned Kynaston, the brightest star in Restoration theatre. Since women are forbidden to appear on stage, the beautiful, brazen Ned is able to shine in all the great female roles, while his loyal dresser, Maria (Claire Danes) looks upon his success with admiration - and just a touch of envy. But when Charles II (Rupert Everett) changes the law to ban cross-dressing male actors and allow females onto the stage, Ned's once-glittering career goes into freefall, giving Maria the chance she has always dreamed of to step into the limelight...


Edward "Ned" Knyaston (Billy Crudup) is a beautiful man, and as an actor in 17th-century London that means he's quite popular portraying women, since females are forbidden to tread the boards. His mischievous air of entitlement, unfortunately, soon sets in motion a chain of events that will see King Charles II (Rupert Everett) lifting the ban on actresses, allowing Ned's devoted dresser, Maria (Claire Danes), to become the city's reigning theatrical diva.

Director Richard Eyre (Iris) is still best known for his stage work, and it shows: Stage Beauty is rich in character and attention to detail, yet it doesn't have a popcorn-and-soda pop ease. Jeffrey Hatcher's well-observed script, based on his own play, romps a little self-consciously in Eyre's hands--you can tell it would like to be Shakespeare in Love if it could only relax. The gorgeous Crudup and dewy Danes don't quite click here, but the supporting cast is having a good time going way over-the-top, so if you're hungry for an elaborate historical confection there's enough here to satisfy your taste buds. --Steve Wiecking

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By pgagge on 21 July 2006
Format: DVD
Cross dressing Shakespearean actors on the Restoration scene. The eternal questions of rôle and identity. Wit and vulgarity. A scene-stealing Merry Monarch and his delectable Nellie. The bustle, filth and sheer energy of 17th century London. Not least, a light touch and clear sense of fun from the entire cast, with some outstanding performances. What's not to like?

I can live with the artistic license taken with the period -- at times, one gets the impression that Bardolatry was anywhere near as widespread as it is today, and the post-Brando acting at the end would probably have elicited boos rather than cheers from its audiences -- but anything true to its time would be alien to us. And, hey, the ever-iterated Desdemona death scene really does finally work!

On the minus side, the four-plus initial minutes of unskippable commercials and previews definitely robs this DVD issue of one star. Would that there were a warning system -- or better, that DVD producers recognized simple politeness as a selling point.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Foroyar on 23 Dec. 2004
Format: DVD
Without knowing why, I was intrigued by this film from seeing it advertised. I consider myself thoroughly intrigued now I've seen it! "Stage Beauty" possess a magestic grace and effortless wit that even "Shakespeare In Love" did not possess. A riot of colours, rich fabric and make-up and a splatter of absorbing characters (not to mention the intelligent acting behind it) makes Stage Beauty one of the best films I have had the pleasure to see this year. The sets are glorious, the costumes quite exquisiste and there is a fresh humour in the script I haven't seen the like of since Moulin Rouge.
the two leading actors. (Clare Danes and Billy Crudup) give a superb performance, particularly as Crudup would have been greatly challenged to find the awkward character of Ned in himself. Danes, of course, is quite on form and is truly excellent as Ned's dedicated dress mistress. A fresh, honest film about love, truth and the true meaning of beauty. Buy it.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By David Henry on 25 April 2005
Format: DVD
As a non-English native speaker, it is difficult for me to express my enthusiasm for this magnificent movie - especially since it deals with one of the richest, unique elements of English culture - the world of Shakespeare.
But I'll try, because the movie is just extraordinary.
Stage Beauty is conceived much like a play by Shakespeare, with its layers of complexity behind the apparent simplicity of its powerful story, its well-crafted characters, and its underlying themes (interactions between genders, definition and pursuit of Excellence, disorder versus order). In fact, it is highly reminiscent of Othello in its central themes - and, not surprisingly, Othello the play is at the heart of the movie.
The performance of the actors is simply stunning - they effortlessly take viewers from one emotion to the next; and watching them portray players who in turn play roles (of their own gender or not) is an absolute delight.
However, acting skills are enablers - what really allows the cast to deliver such a compelling performance is the movie's overall structure, and the consistent way in which it deals with its core themes. In fact, the movie progresses in such an irresistible way that it culminates with a man and a woman simply greeting each other before a rehearsal - the masculine Excellence and the feminine Excellence, finally defined, and facing each other at last - after a period of disorder and conflicts.
An absolute jewel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 July 2007
Format: DVD
It's London in the 1660's when women were forbidden by law to appear on the stage. Female roles were played by male actors who were raised and trained for this specialty. The greatest of them is Ned Kynaston (Billy Crudup) and we meet him on stage while he's playing Desdemona's death scene. Maria (Claire Danes), his dresser, wants two be an actor and to have Ned. When Charles II issues a decree that henceforth women only may play women's roles, Ned's world crashes to the ground. As he says, "Where's the art in a woman playing a woman?" Maria's world changes just as radically.

Stage Beauty is a terrific movie about theater and gender. Kynaston is a man who plays women who now must learn to play men. He's gay, he's straight, he's bi, and he doesn't think seriously about all that...only that he must act. Maria is a woman who wants to play women but only knows how to play men playing women because that's all she's ever seen. Eventually, Ned shows Maria how to be a woman playing a woman, and Maria shows Ned how to be a man playing a man. And while Ned's nature may not make him a candidate for heterosexual monogamy, it's likely that Ned and Maria will enjoy each other's pleasure and company for a while, as well as new fame. "Who are you now?" she asks him, after their triumph on the stage, she as Desdemona to his Othello. "I don't know, I don't know," he says, and they both laugh and kiss.

Crudup does an extraordinary job. He plays Desdemona in full costume, he plays Othello, he plays bi, he plays straight, he plays gay. He's believable. He has the looks, the masculinity and the screen presence to become one of Hollywood's pretty star leads like Tom and Brad and Leo, but he spends his time acting in New York and taking quirky screen roles like this one.
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