Sir John Falstaff (the Shakespearian character superbly portrayed by Orson Welles), is a charming although drunken and obese companion of young Henry V. At first Prince Hal and Falstaff lead a life of debauchery and idleness, but as the prince sees the import of his destiny as the future king of England, Falstaff fearfully believes their relationship might be heading for trouble. Welles’ marvelous portrayal of this jovial but tragic character and strong acting throughout make Chimes at Midnight an exceptionally worthwhile film. —Hollywood’s Attic
The prodigy son of an inventor and a musician, Welles was well-versed in literature at an early age, particularly Shakespeare, and, through the unusual circumstances of his life (both of his parents died by the time he was 12, leaving him with an inheritance and not many family obligations), he found himself free to indulge his numerous interests, which included the theater. He was educated in private schools and traveled the world. He found it tougher to get onto the Broadway stage, and get a job with Katharine Cornell. He later became associated with John Houseman, and, together, the two of them set the New York theater afire during the 1930s with their work for the Federal Theatre Project, which led to the founding of the Mercury Theater. The Mercury Players later graduated to radio, and their 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast made history when thousands of listeners mistakenly believed aliens had landed on Earth. In 1940, Hollywood beckoned, and Welles and company went west to… read more
Revelry and reverie combine for this ramshackle history, with the politicking carried by a regal Gielgud and the boozing by Welles himself, where his film finds itself most at home for his redoubtable presence both in front and behind the camera, through Falstaff’s wry morality (and paunch) and the suitably inebriated aesthetics, respectively. Indeed, Welles’ vision surpasses that of Shakespeare’s consolidated book: a mash-up of the Henriad that works as a rich tapestry of livelihoods - if not his finest adaptation, then his most humane.
way more warmer and humane than, for instance, 'citizen kane' (i have serious problems with that film). you think it surpasses Shakespeare? ouch. quite the statement. i only don't appreciate the over the top-ness of the acting. too LOUD. that's always my problem with Welles. Too much Theatre.
did not exactly said hammy acting but he sometimes chews the scenery you know? he's an ogre - a bit like Brando and Laughton - irregardless of what is known by, i appreciate it but i won't lie, i'm not a fan of his. I think he never quite new how to shut off the influence of theatre and literature in his oeuvre. i dunno. i prefer freer directors. you know? he was a craftsman, no doubt it's just i find little to none emotional ressonance in much of his work. like he's detached from the world and always shooting "the great stories of art history" (just saw a Cavalier and you could taste his flesh on his films) with Welles it's always by proxy you know? Gonna see Othello and Macbeth again.
More from good ol' John Carpenter, who famously declared this was his 'all-time favorites' number 1. John added, watching it, he learned how to reach the 'heart' of a film: and when one can do that, it's easy to discover when 'there's more to it than meets the eye'. Something like that. Anyway, I will just add one thing that wouldn't even be needed: the battle was just UNBELIEVABLE!
This film has possibly the most flawless cinematography I’ve ever seen. Not to mention the fantastic acting, and the battle scene is just superbly articulated, on par with that of Eisenstein Alexander… read review
To many this is Welles’ best film and not that big movie he made at RKO in the early 40s. CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT is an adaptation of the Henriad, Four History plays beginning from Richard II extending… read review