Question of whether a Shakespearean play can be successfully produced on a lavish scale for the films is affirmatively answered by this commendable effort. The familiar story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, half of which is laid in a make-believe land of elves and fairies, is right up the film alley technically.
The fantasy, the ballets of the Oberon and Titania cohorts, and the characters in the eerie sequences are convincing and illusion compelling. Film is replete with enchanting scenes, beautifully photographed and charmingly presented. All Shakespearian devotees will be pleased at the soothing treatment given to the Mendelssohn score.
The women are uniformly better than the men. They get more from their lines. The selection of Dick Powell to play Lysander was unfortunate. He never seems to catch the spirit of the play or role. And Mickey Rooney, as Puck, is so intent on being cute that he becomes almost annoying.
There are some outstanding performances, however, notably Victor Jory as Oberon. His clear, distinct diction indicates what can be done by careful recitation and good recording; Olivia de Havilland, as Hermia, is a fine artist here; others are Jean Muir, Verree Teasdale and Anita Louise, the latter beautiful as Titania but occasionally indistinct in her lines.
1935: Best Cinematography, Editing.
Nomination: Best Picture