What a wonderfull theatrical feast this Burton - Zeffirelli production is. Elizabeth Taylor gives the definitive performance of Katharina the shrew, with beautifull menacing eyes and almost insane aggression, which turns to classic charm and elegance, as she learns to love and respect.
Richard Burton at his peak delivers a commanding and humourous and equally powerful performance as Petruchio visiting Padua to find a wife. To eveyones relief, especially her father, Petruchio takes on Kate, a 'lusty wench' and it is obvious there is an immediate attraction, as they unravel Shakespeare's eloquent battle of the sexes magnificently. A coffer of 20,000.00 crowns, is no small incentive to the Bridegroom.
They are backed by an excellent cast, including Michael York as Lucentio, greatly enamoured of Kate's fair sister Bianca, (Natasha Pyne) who being the youngest is not allowed to marry before Kate. He and his Valet Hortensio (Victor Spinetti) swap roles in true Shakespearian manor, to gain access to the household, and woo Bianca. Giancarlo Cobelli plays the nervous priest at the wedding ceremony.
The success of this lavish spectacle owes a lot to the authentic and imaginative 16th Century costume designs. Costumes which Elizabeth Taylor displays radiantly were designed by Irene Sharaff, overall costume design by Danilo Donati, and production design by Renzo Mongiardino.
Music composed by Nino Rota, conducted by Carlo Savina, keeps the Paduan Festival atmosphere rolling
with lutes, flutes and sackbuts, and one or two very nice minstrell songs.
Running time is 117 minutes, but seems shorter because of the complete entertainment value; and this Columbia Tristar DVD of 2001 gives excellent wide screen colour and sound quality.
Special features include a short conversation with Elizabeth taylor, and Richard Burton, and their presentation at the Royal Command performance in London to Princess Margaret in 1967. That featurette alone is now memorable.