British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Hamlet Screen Tests

Synopsis
John Barrymore was approached in 1933 to make a film version of Hamlet. Although he had played the role many times on stage, the production company asked for a screen test, perhaps because of rumours that Barrymore’s health and memory were fading. Barrymore was tested at the RKO Studios in Hollywood and although his performance was flawless in part of the test, he could not remember his lines in a key scene (I v). The producers were concerned thet the expensive Technicolor production might fail with Barrymore as the lead and they abandoned the project. The test shots were saved by the principal investor in the film, John Hay Whitney, and restored by the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film.
Language
English
Country
United States
Medium
Film
Technical information
Colour / Sound
Recording date
1 Jan 1933
Duration
10 mins
Availability
Sale (offered only as a print facility to film and television producers; no rights are claimed or given)

Credits

Director
Margaret Carington; Robert Edmond Jones
Cast
John BarrymoreHamlet
Donald Crisp 
Irving Pichel 
Reginald Denny 

Additional Details

Production type
Other
Plays
Hamlet
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
cinema; Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); Screen tests

Notes

Notes
The Folger Shakespeare Library catalogue record credits Robert E. Jones as the director.
General
Barrymore some twelve months later signed a contract for a film version of Hamlet to be produced by Alexander Korda. In the screen test he failed at the same place; Barrymore backed out and the film was never made.

Production Company

Name

RKO

Notes
Home Video rights in the UK are handled bu Universal Home Video (qv). TV rights in the UK are held by the BBC. US rights are held by Warner Home Video.

Archive

Name

Folger Shakespeare Library

Email
reference@folger.edu
Web
http://www.folger.edu External site opens in new window
Phone
(202) 544 4600
Fax
(202) 544 4623
Address
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington
DC 20003
USA

Distributor (Hire)

Name

Goodland (Fred) Film Services

Phone
020 8539 4412
Address
81 Farmilo Road
LONDON
E17 8JN

Record Stats

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