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The Merchant of Venice [VHS] [1973] [1974]

Laurence Olivier , Joan Plowright , John Sichel    Universal, suitable for all   VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Jeremy Brett, Michael Jayston, Anthony Nicholls
  • Directors: John Sichel
  • Writers: William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Cecil Clarke
  • Format: PAL, Full Screen, Colour
  • Language: English
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: PolyGram Video
  • VHS Release Date: 14 July 1992
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CJJF
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,411 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

The National Theatre Company, headed by the late Sir Laurence Olivier, perform this production of Shakespeare's play. In Venice of the 1880s, Jewish moneylender Shylock (Olivier) provides young Antonio (Anthony Nichols) with a loan, stating that if it is not repaid he will claim a pound of flesh. When Antonio's bond defaults, Shylock attempts to claim his grisly compensation in a court of law, but Portia (Joan Plowright) pleads Antonio's case.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Merchant of Venice 4 Mar 2010
By Nipper
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I liked this version enormously. For the first time (except for the recent Henry Goodman version) in a long time a completely sympathetic view of Shylock. Olivier, who can be a bit OTT sometimes, was perfect in this part, and at the end his breakdown is completely convincing. Another thing I always have difficulty is the Portia as a man sequence, but Joan Plowright does this very well, again almost convincing. The anti-semantics (is that right?) are still there of course, but counteracted by the sympathy of other characters. All in all a good version.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The grand National 25 Feb 2013
By Hermes Love TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
I managed to pick this up at the checkout of the local garden centre of all places. Strange reasoning behind that one - 'Let's see, I need three bags of compost, half a dozen fence panels... oh, and I think I'll also buy 'The Merchant of Venice'. Mind you, it obviously works. Once I saw the name 'Jeremy Brett' amongst the cast, this DVD's fate was well and truly sealed. The play was recorded in 1973, wonderfully immortalising the National Theatre's production. It was set in the early 1900s, an idea which definitely adds interest to the action.

My knowledge of Shakespeare and his works is not brilliant, therefore my appreciation of them is not particularly impressive. However, it is hard not to feel privileged at being able to witness such a powerful collection of performances from some of the very finest British stage actors. Olivier himself brings enormous depth to the character of Shylock. The range of his voice alone is impressive enough. Because the dramatisation is effectively a theatrical performance, you get the feeling of intimacy that really makes this something special.

As for Jeremy Brett, it takes an actor of some considerable talent and charisma to be able to distract you from Olivier at his best. Mr Brett manages to do that quite effortlessly. So much is unsaid, it is all about the gestures and expressions. Very much the way he worked when bringing Sherlock Holmes to life so vividly. He was of course one of Olivier's company at the National Theatre at the beginning of his career and was very much influenced by the elder man. With that in mind, it is amazing to be able to see them working so closely together in this.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best version, forget pacino! 21 Sep 2008
Format:VHS Tape
With an excellent cast, and my favourite quote in all shakespeare..'the fool multitude who judge by show...' delivered by a superb actor and totally cut out of the pacino version, an unforgivable error, and a pasty vague version with very little memorable characters or scenes to boot, this version just flies above it in all regards, and worth buying a video recorder for alone.How dare pacino dumb down this masterpiece!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive. 30 Mar 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Anyone who says, "Oh Olivier wasn't that good an actor," has never seen his Shylock. I am thrilled that this historic performance is now available on DVD. It's been unavailable for far too long. If you never see any performance of Olivier's but this one, you will realize the extent to which he gave himself over to a character. It's excellent, as is his Othello. And the rest of the cast is terrific as well. The pathos which one finds in Olivier's Shylock is important: It illuminates Portia's famous speech about "The quality of mercy," in that it makes the viewer realize that in Shakespeare's time Jews were terribly persecuted. But one will also realize what empathy one feels for the Old Jew. It is a masterpiece.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Merchant of Venice 28 Mar 2014
By Hannam
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Contrary to everyone else, I thought this was the poorest version of any Shakespeare play I have ever seen. The setting in the 19th century does not work and detracts greatly from the play. Surprisingly, I thought Olivier was dreadful and so obviously acting. The part where he breaks the picture is awful.Totally over the top. Plowright was too old for this part and also comes across as trivial. Gratiano comes across as sneaky rather than cheeky. Antonio seems not to know what he is doing in business matters. The whole thing is a shambles and is further let down by poor sound recording.
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