Chimes at Midnight (1965)
Sorry Shakespeare lovers! Orson Welles’s film about Falstaff has moments of brilliance, including a suitably ambiguous portrayal of Prince Hal by Keith Baxter, but I found myself drifting in and out of consciousness with boredom. Of course, I’ve always thought Falstaff to be overrated.
The Merchant of Venice (1980)
Though this version of The Merchant of Venice is basically a recorded performance, it is a clear and complete (or nearly complete) production of Shakespeare’s most controversial play which manages to illuminate the characters’ complex motivations. If you don’t mind a little dryness and low-budget cinematography, I recommend it.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1990)
Tom Stoppard directs a respectable adaptation of his own wonderful play about two interchangeable characters in Hamlet. It’s philosophical and humorous, and it features two of my favorite actors, Tim Roth and Gary Oldman, along with a well-cast Richard Dreyfuss as the Player.
Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000)
This wordy comedy is difficult to adapt (and read), but it can be a joy to watch. Kenneth Branagh and his cast do an admirable job, pairing the original text with songs by Gerswhin, Porter, and the like. The newsreel footage is great fun, but the movie loses steam and feels overly long.