The Most Faithful Shakespeare Films

by ScarletSpider87 | created - 9 months ago | updated - 4 months ago | Public

For those who wish to view film productions of Shakespeare's plays which are true to the author's intent, faithful to his text and the time period, without any weird modernist interpretations or outsider influences. Most of these productions are nearly perfect, but there are minor problems with a few of them. Nevertheless, they are the best currently available to the true Shakespeare fan.

As a sorry commentary on the state of our culture, to date there have been no faithful films made of "Troilus and Cressida," "All's Well That Ends Well," "Timon of Athens," "Cymbeline," "The Two Noble Kinsmen," and "Edward III."

This list is ordered in a suggested reading/viewing order, which is: the comedies and tragedies in the chronological order of their writing, followed by the histories in the chronological order of the events portrayed. Do yourself a favor and read Shakespeare's wonderful work before viewing the accompanying film.

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1. The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1983 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 137 min | Comedy

In 16th century Italy, two inseparable friends suddenly become rivals for the love of a noblewoman.

Director: Don Taylor | Stars: Frank Barrie, Tessa Peake-Jones, Hetta Charnley, Tyler Butterworth

Votes: 94

2. The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

Approved | 122 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Brutish, fortune-hunting scoundrel Petruchio (Richard Burton) tames his wealthy, shrewish wife, Katharina (Dame Elizabeth Taylor).

Director: Franco Zeffirelli | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern

Votes: 6,858 | Gross: $8.00M

3. Titus Andronicus (1985 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 168 min | Drama, Horror

Roman warrior Titus Andronicus finds himself trapped in a nightmarish cycle of vengeance, misery, and bloodshed.

Director: Jane Howell | Stars: Paul Davies Prowles, Edward Hardwicke, Walter Brown, Brian Protheroe

Votes: 132

4. The Comedy of Errors (1983 TV Movie)

109 min | Comedy

Aegeon of Syracuse has come to Ephesus to seek his son, who went in search of his missing twin and mother months ago. Unfortunately, Ephesus has just declared war on Syracuse, and will ... See full summary »

Director: James Cellan Jones | Stars: Cyril Cusack, Charles Gray, Nicolas Chagrin, Nick Burnell

Votes: 150

5. BBC Play of the Month (1965–1983)
Episode: Love's Labour's Lost (1975)

Drama

A scholarly king and his three companions swear off the society of women for three years, only to have a diplomatic visit from a French princess and her three ladies-in-waiting thwart their intentions.

Director: Basil Coleman | Stars: Martin Shaw, David Gwillim, Thomas Ellice, Jeremy Brett

Votes: 13

6. Romeo and Juliet (1976 TV Movie)

186 min | Drama, Romance

Romeo falls in love with the beautiful young Juliet, but their warring families spell tragedy for the lovers.

Director: Joan Kemp-Welch | Stars: Christopher Neame, Ann Hasson, Laurence Payne, Mary Kenton

Votes: 55

7. ITV Play of the Week (1955–1974)
Episode: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1964)

Comedy, Drama

Theseus, Duke of Athens, is going to marry Hyppolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Demetrius is engaged with Hermia, but Hermia loves Lysander. Helena loves Demetrius. Oberon and Titania, of the ... See full summary »

Director: Joan Kemp-Welch | Stars: Patrick Allen, Eira Heath, Cyril Luckham, Tony Bateman

Votes: 12

8. BBC Play of the Month (1965–1983)
Episode: The Merchant of Venice (1972)

Drama

Antonio's friend Bassanio is in love and needs money to go courting. Using Antonio as his collateral, he borrows money from Shylock. But when the debt comes due, Shylock demands repayment in the form of a pound of Antonio's flesh.

Director: Cedric Messina | Stars: Maggie Smith, Frank Finlay, Charles Gray, Christopher Gable

Votes: 31

This production of "The Merchant of Venice" can be found on a DVD set called "Maggie Smith at the BBC."

9. Much Ado About Nothing (1984 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 148 min | Comedy, Romance

Benedick and Beatrice fight their merry war of words. But when Beatrice's friend, Hero, is humiliatingly jilted by Benedick's best friend, Claudio, Benedick has to choose which side he's on... See full summary »

Director: Stuart Burge | Stars: Lee Montague, Tim Faulkner, Cherie Lunghi, Katharine Levy

Votes: 200

10. Julius Caesar (1953)

Not Rated | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History

The growing ambition of Julius Caesar is a source of major concern to his close friend Brutus. Cassius persuades him to participate in his plot to assassinate Caesar, but they have both sorely underestimated Mark Antony.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Louis Calhern, Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud

Votes: 9,657

11. As You Like It (1978 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 151 min | Comedy

After the overthrowing of Duke Senior by his tyrannical brother, Senior's daughter Rosalind disguises herself as a man and sets out to find her banished father while also counseling her clumsy suitor Orlando in the art of wooing.

Director: Basil Coleman | Stars: Helen Mirren, Brian Stirner, Richard Pasco, Angharad Rees

Votes: 272

12. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 210 min | Drama

Hamlet suspects his uncle has murdered his father to claim the throne of Denmark and the hand of Hamlet's mother, but the Prince cannot decide whether or not he should take vengeance.

Director: Rodney Bennett | Stars: Derek Jacobi, Claire Bloom, Patrick Stewart, Eric Porter

Votes: 510

13. Twelfth Night (1980 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 128 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Viola and Sebastian are lookalike twins, separated by a shipwreck. Viola lands in Illyria, where she disguises herself like her brother and goes into the service of the Duke Orsino. Orsino ... See full summary »

Director: John Gorrie | Stars: Alec McCowen, Robert Hardy, Felicity Kendal, Annette Crosbie

Votes: 211

14. Measure for Measure (1979 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 145 min | Drama

When the Duke of Vienna takes a mysterious leave of absence and leaves the strict Angelo in charge, things couldn't be worse for Claudio, who is sentenced to death for premarital sex. His ... See full summary »

Director: Desmond Davis | Stars: Kenneth Colley, Kate Nelligan, Tim Pigott-Smith, Christopher Strauli

Votes: 175

15. Othello (1965)

Unrated | 165 min | Drama

General Othello's (Sir Laurence Olivier's) marriage is destroyed when vengeful Ensign Iago (Frank Finlay) convinces him that his new wife has been unfaithful.

Director: Stuart Burge | Stars: Laurence Olivier, Frank Finlay, Robert Lang, Anthony Nicholls

Votes: 1,270

16. King Lear (1983 TV Movie)

158 min | Drama

An aging King invites disaster, when he abdicates to his corrupt, toadying daughters, and rejects his loving and honest one.

Director: Michael Elliott | Stars: Colin Blakely, Leo McKern, Robert Lindsay, Laurence Olivier

Votes: 718

17. Macbeth (1970)

Not Rated | 119 min | Drama, Family

Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Stars: Michael Jayston, Brian Badcoe, Tim Hardy, Barbara Leigh-Hunt

Votes: 12

18. Antony and Cleopatra (1974 TV Movie)

161 min | Drama, History, Romance

After the murder of her lover Julius Caesar, Egypt's Queen Cleopatra needs a new ally. She seduces his probable successor Mark Antony. This develops into real love and slowly leads to a war with the other possible successor, Octavius.

Director: Jon Scoffield | Stars: Richard Johnson, Janet Suzman, Rosemary McHale, Mavis Taylor Blake

Votes: 123

19. Pericles, Prince of Tyre (1984 TV Movie)

177 min | Drama

When Pericles discovers the dread answer to Antioch's riddle, he flees for his life straight into famine, shipwreck, love, fatherhood, and another shipwreck; he loses his wife and daughter,... See full summary »

Director: David Hugh Jones | Stars: Edward Petherbridge, John Woodvine, Edita Brychta, Mike Gwilym

Votes: 82

20. The Spread of the Eagle (1963– )
Episode: The Hero: Coriolanus Acts 1 and 2 (1963)

Drama, History, Romance

A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.

Director: Peter Dews | Stars: Robert Hardy, Roland Culver, Beatrix Lehmann, Frank Pettingell

This film exists in the archives but has never been released on home media. It is on this list because, although I have not seen it, based on what I have read (and on what I have seen in the sister series "Age of Kings") I think it is likely to be the only faithful adaptation. If it is not, there is none.

21. The Spread of the Eagle (1963– )
Episode: The Voices: Coriolanus Acts 2, 3 and 4 (1963)

Drama, History, Romance

A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.

Director: Peter Dews | Stars: Robert Hardy, Roland Culver, Beatrix Lehmann, Frank Pettingell

22. The Spread of the Eagle (1963– )
Episode: The Outcast: Coriolanus Acts 4 and 5 (1963)

Drama, History, Romance

A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.

Director: Peter Dews | Stars: Robert Hardy, Roland Culver, Beatrix Lehmann, Frank Pettingell

23. The Winter's Tale (1981 TV Movie)

173 min | Comedy, Drama

King Leontes of Bohemia suspects his wife, Hermione, and his friend, Polixenes, of betraying him. When he forces Polixenes to flee for his life, Leontes sets in motion a chain of events ... See full summary »

Director: Jane Howell | Stars: John Welsh, David Burke, Robert Stephens, Jeremy Kemp

Votes: 115

24. The Tempest (1983 TV Movie)

145 min | Drama

Exiled Prospero lives on a desolate island with his daughter, Miranda. When Prospero's usurping brother sails by the island, Prospero conjures a storm that wrecks the ship and changes all of their lives.

Directors: John Hirsch, Herb Roland | Stars: Shaun Austin-Olsen, Richard Binsley, Len Cariou, Richard Curnock

25. The Life and Death of King John (1984 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 155 min | Drama

King John does whatever it takes to keep himself on the throne of England, making enemies of the pope, France, and his nephew along the way.

Director: David Giles | Stars: Leonard Rossiter, William Whymper, Mary Morris, Robert Brown

Votes: 91

26. Richard II (1978 TV Movie)

158 min | Biography, Drama, History

The incompetent King Richard II is deposed by Henry Bolingbroke and undergoes a crisis of identity once he is no longer King.

Director: David Giles | Stars: Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, Jon Finch, Wendy Hiller

Votes: 249

27. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Henry IV Part 1: Rebellion from the North (1960)

Drama

Henry Bolingbroke has now been crowned King of England, but faces a rebellion headed by the embittered Earl of Northumberland and his son (nicknamed 'Hotspur'). Henry's son Hal, the Prince ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: Tom Fleming, Julian Glover, Frank Windsor, Patrick Garland

Votes: 20

The first half of Henry IV Part One

28. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Henry IV Part 2: The Road to Shrewsbury (1960)

Drama

Henry Bolingbroke has now been crowned King of England, but faces a rebellion headed by the embittered Earl of Northumberland and his son (nicknamed 'Hotspur'). Henry's son Hal, the Prince ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: David Andrews, Sean Connery, William Squire, Geoffrey Bayldon

Votes: 18

The second half of Henry IV Part One

29. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Henry IV Part 3: The New Conspiracy (1960)

Drama

Henry Bolingbroke has now been crowned King of England, but faces a rebellion headed by the embittered Earl of Northumberland and his son (nicknamed 'Hotspur'). Henry's son Hal, the Prince ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: David Andrews, Angela Baddeley, Hermione Baddeley, Geoffrey Bayldon

Votes: 11

The first half of Henry IV Part Two

30. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Henry IV Part 4: Uneasy Lies the Head (1960)

Drama

Henry Bolingbroke has now been crowned King of England, but faces a rebellion headed by the embittered Earl of Northumberland and his son (nicknamed 'Hotspur'). Henry's son Hal, the Prince ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: Tom Fleming, Edgar Wreford, Kenneth Farrington, Noel Johnson

Votes: 11

The second half of Henry IV Part Two

31. The Merry Wives of Windsor (1982 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 170 min | Comedy, Romance

When Sir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun he writes two letters to a pair of Window wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they put their heads together and ... See full summary »

Director: David Hugh Jones | Stars: Alan Bennett, Richard O'Callaghan, Tenniel Evans, Bryan Marshall

Votes: 118

32. Henry V (1979 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 170 min | Biography, Drama, War

In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France in 1415.

Director: David Giles | Stars: John Abineri, Robert Ashby, Trevor Baxter, Rod Beacham

Votes: 113

35. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Henry VI Part 2: The Fall of a Protector (1960)

Drama

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: Edgar Wreford, Terry Scully, Mary Morris, John Ringham

Votes: 13

The first half of Henry VI Part Two

36. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Henry VI Part 3: The Rabble from Kent (1960)

Drama

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: John Ringham, Terence Lodge, Adrian Brine, Patrick Garland

Votes: 13

The second half of Henry VI Part Two

37. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Henry VI Part 4: The Morning's War (1960)

Drama

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: Frank Windsor, Jack May, Julian Glover, Patrick Garland

Votes: 12

The first half of Henry VI Part Three

38. An Age of Kings (1960)
Episode: Part Thirteen: The Sun in Splendour (1960)

Drama

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Hayes | Stars: John Warner, Tamara Hinchco, Mary Morris, John Greenwood

Votes: 12

The second half of Henry VI Part Three

39. Richard III (1955)

Not Rated | 161 min | Biography, Drama, History

Shakespeare's powerful tale of the wicked deformed King and his conquests, both on the battlefield and in the boudoir.

Director: Laurence Olivier | Stars: Laurence Olivier, Cedric Hardwicke, Nicholas Hannen, Ralph Richardson

Votes: 3,828

40. Henry VIII (1979 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 166 min | History

Henry VIII is a proud and wilful monarch who defies Rome's ban on divorce to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. Cardinal Wolsey, the Powerful Lord Chancellor of England, attempts to bend Rome ... See full summary »

Director: Kevin Billington | Stars: John Stride, Julian Glover, Ronald Pickup, Barbara Kellerman

Votes: 95



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