This timeless Shakespeare tale of two star-crossed lovers has made it to the screen in numerous variations, but perhaps none rival director George Cukor's lavish 1936 production for sheer romantic will; producer Irving Thalberg appointed him for his well-known ability to weave elaborate productions and emotional story lines. Norma Shearer, Thalberg's wife, plays Juliet to Leslie Howard's Romeo. Both stars, at the height of their fame going into ROMEO AND JULIET (though neither was close to being an actual teenager), portray the achingly poignant young lovers whose families are sworn enemies in this classically beautiful Hollywood adaption. Striving for perfection, Thalberg hired literary consultants to ensure that the abridged screenplay would be faithful to the Bard's original lines. John Barrymore makes his presence felt as the boisterous Mercutio, Romeo's close friend. ROMEO AND JULIET was Cukor's, (originally a theater director) only Shakespeare adaptation, and his largest production up to that time. This well-crafted film garnered four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and a Best Actress nod for Norma Shearer.
Doomed Lovers |
Love Story |
Stage Play |
Theatrical release: August 1936.
Professor William Strunk Jr. of Cornell University was the literary consultant.
George Cukor's first choice for the role of Romeo was Fredric March. He also considered Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Laurence Olivier, and Robert Donat.
The project was spearheaded by producer Irving Thalberg, who cast his wife, Norma Shearer, in the lead role.