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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest Jack Falstaff (Part I), 15 July 2011
This review is from: Henry IV Part One - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1979] (DVD)
This is a solid production of a forcefully written play. It is generally well acted, produced and directed. It boasts an outstanding performance from Anthony Quayle as Sir John Falstaff (this being my first encounter with the character). Falstaff is a rogue and a thief; a merry-making hedonist and coward who neverthless loves Prince Hal (later to become Henry V) with all of his considerable heart. I won't spoil the plot by telling you more, but I did find myself very impressed with the force and eloquence of Shakespeare's writing throughout this play.

Jon Finch makes for an effective (and ailing) Henry IV, and a youngish Tim Pigott-Smith is very good as the bombastic Harry Hotspur.

The one criticism I would make is that the helmets in the battle scenes look cheap and plastic, and the ill-fitting tabards appear to have been made from gaudy nylon. But I don't think it is altogether fair to allow budgetary constraints of this sort to detract from what is, overall, a good production of a great play.

Beyond the "subtitles" and "scene selection" options, the DVD has no extras.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling drama, 27 May 2010
By 
Ruth O'D (Limerick, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Henry IV Part One - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1979] (DVD)
Henry IV has come to the throne of England by snatching the crown from his weak, worldly cousin Richard II. Now he sees his son and heir, also called Henry, spending his time in idleness and dissipation and mirroring the worthless Richard. Meanwhile, another noble Henry, Henry Percy known as Hotspur, is proving himself brave and forceful, and starting to present a threat to the crown.

Although this is called 'Henry IV, part one' it is in reality about the contrasting fortunes of the two younger men, climaxing in a final battle where one kills the other. There is also the contrast between the serious play, as we focus on Henry Percy's rebellion, and a much more light-hearted tone as we see the king's son in company with drunkards and scoundrels, chief among them Sir John Falstaff (excellently portrayed by Anthony Quayle).

There are not many great speeches in this play but I found it very believable and compelling as drama; I was particularly impressed by Tim Pigott-Smith as Hotspur but also found the exchanges between the King and his wayward son to be moving. In general there was very little Shakespearean play-acting here; the dialogue was 16th Century but the acting was up-to-date and natural. (I hate to be uncharitable but I found the actress who played Mrs Hotspur an exception, she looked like she was in a school play!)

A couple of minor gripes - the costumes were at times particularly dreadful; it's hard to concentrate on the action when confronted with a silly little skirted tunic and matching tights, and someone had the unfortunate idea of having Hotspur speak his final dramatic dialogue with his mouth full of mock blood. I couldn't decide whether it was comical or just plain disgusting, either way it distracted from the drama of the moment.

Apart from that, this is a play that could be enjoyed even by someone who was not really INTO Shakespeare, there'll always be fathers and sons, and this is as much about family relationships as 15th Century history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A bawdy good laugh, 6 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Henry IV Part One - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1979] (DVD)
This may not be Shakespeare at his best, however this is still a really good play. Basically King Henry is having a tough time with his rule. His son, Prince Harry prefers the local pub along with the company of thieves and prostitutes. Most parents will readily identify with this!
Then to add to King Henrys troubles he hears of a rebellion in the north started by Hotspur.
The person whom steals the show for me is Falstaff, played by Anthony Quale. He makes himself out to be such a brave and fearless knight but in reality he is anything but.
This is a brilliant play, a good laugh and very well acted. So do i recommend? You bet.
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Henry IV Part One - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1979]
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