Chimes at Midnight
Independent Films, Film Profiles
Chimes at Midnight (aka Falstaff) is a 1965 film directed by Orson Welles based on William Shakespeare's recurring character Sir John Falstaff. Welles himself played Falstaff, Keith Baxter was Prince Hal (who will later become Henry V), and John Gielgud played Henry IV. Jeanne Moreau appeared as Doll Tearsheet and Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly.The script contains text from five Shakespeare plays: primarily Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, but also Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. It was based on Welles's play Five Kings, an adaptation of four Shakespeare plays which he produced in 1939 and again in 1960. The film's narration, spoken by Ralph Richardson, is taken from the chronicler Holinshed.The film was nominated (in 1968) for a BAFTA film award for Welles as Best Foreign Actor. At the 1966 Cannes Film Festival Welles was nominated for the Golden Palm Award and won the 20th Anniversary Prize and the Technical Grand Prize. In Spain it won (in 1966) the Citizens Writers Circle Award for Best Film.Welles held this film in high regard and considered it along with The Trial his best work. As he remarked in 1982, "If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that's the one I'd offer up." Many critics, including Peter Bogdanovich and Jonathan Rosenbaum, also consider it Welles's finest work. The scene depicting the Battle of Shrewsbury has been particularly admired, serving as an inspiration for movies like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan.Due to complications concerning the film's ownership, Chimes at Midnight remains unavailable in the United States. It is most readily available as an import DVD from Brazil.
Year of Production: 1965
Length: 117 min.
Country: United States
- Orson Welles
- Ángel Escolano, Emiliano Piedra, Harry Saltzman
- Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Marina Vlady, Fernando Rey, Beatrice Welles, Ingrid Pitt