Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

The Serpent (1963, Peter Dews)

TitleThe Serpent
Release LocationsGB
DirectorPeter Dews
MediumBlack & white video
Length51 mins
Audiencegeneral public
Play ConnectionsAntony and Cleopatra (teleplay)
SeriesThe Spread of the Eagle


The title for the series, "The Spread of the Eagle," came from the Roman eagle, "aloof, golden, and cruel," according to Producer/Director Peter Dews. The nine-part series included three of the Roman history plays—Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. The dominant theme of the series was identical to that of An Age of Kings: the Tudor passion for order and strong government. This Tillyardian view reflected the ideology of the mid-Sixties, whose bland acceptance of bourgeois values had not yet been challenged by the disarray of the Vietnam era. Coriolanus becomes the "ex-soldier who tries to run post-war politics on wartime principles," without the slightest success. The production involved a huge cast of some 76 actors and expenses in excess of £9,000

Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. ©1990 Kenneth S. Rothwell. Cited by permission. — Added 2008-11-14

Cast Overview

SoothsayerPaul Bailey
AlexasJohn Barcroft
CastRaymond Clarke
MesengerLeonard Cracknell
CastPamela Craig
DolabellaRoger Croucher
CastMarion Desmond
MessengerHugh Dickson
CharmianJill Dixon
CastBernard Finch
MaecenasJohn Gay
MessengerJohn Greenwood
CastPaul Harris
VarriusBen Harte
CastRoy Herrick
MenasGeoffrey Hinsliff
MenecratesBarry Jackson
MardianDavid King
PhiloCharles Laurence
ScarusBernard Lloyd
AntonyKeith Michell
CleopatraMary Morris
LepidusBrian Oulton
AgrippaAlan Rowe
EnobarbusGeorge Selway
CastCaroline Stephens
CastWendy Varnals
ErosTerry Wale
CastPaul Webster
DemetriusDavid Weston
Octavius CaesarDavid William
PompeyJerome Willis
CastHilary Wright
IrasLucy Young

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorPeter Dews
ProducerPeter Dews
ComposerChristopher Whelen
CostumesElizabeth Agombar
MakeupTommy Manderson
ProductionClifford Hatts

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell