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Trivia / A Midsummer Night's Dream

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The 1935 film:

  • Acclaimed Flop: The film lost money, but got a decent reception and won two Oscars - with a further two nominations.
  • Banned in China: Banned in Nazi Germany, because of Jewish crew members.
  • Creator Backlash: Dick Powell felt he was miscast as Lysander and asked to be taken off the film.
  • Follow the Leader: A version of Romeo and Juliet starring Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer was greenlit after this proved successful.
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  • Jossed: Avant-garde director Kenneth Anger claimed in his autobiography that he played the changeling prince. The part was actually played by child star Sheila Browne.
  • Star-Making Role:
    • Olivia de Havilland made her big screen debut here. She shot two more films that got released first, but the success of all three resulted in a high profile for her.
    • Subverted with Ross Alexander, who played Demetrius. He was being groomed by the Hollywood Hype Machine and had just starred in the hit Captain Blood. But his wife abruptly committed suicide, and he followed suit just two years later.
  • What Could Have Been: Original choices for the roles were Leslie Howard, Charles Laughton, Bette Davis and Laurence Olivier. Executive Meddling saw Dick Powell, James Cagney, Anita Louise and Ian Hunter being cast. It's unknown why Bette Davis - who was under contract with Warner Bros. - wasn't used.

The 1999 film:

  • All-Star Cast: And how! Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Everett, Anna Friel, Dominic West...
  • California Doubling: Played with. The action of the play is relocated to Tuscany as opposed to Athens, but references to Athens are still kept in the script. The film's opening titles set the action in a fictional Tuscan region called "Monte Athena."
  • Creator In-Joke: One group of players can be seen rehearsing a scene from Othello while the Mechanicals are waiting for words from the Duke.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • A few years later, Dominic West would be far more likely to play Demetrius. But here he's Lysander.
    • Christian Bale was likewise more accustomed to playing the plucky hero at the time (before American Psycho broke him of such typecasting). But here he plays Demetrius.

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