Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

Macbeth (1951, Franklin Schaffner)

Release LocationsUSA
DirectorFranklin Schaffner
MediumBlack & white video with sound
Length1 hrs
Play ConnectionsMacbeth (abridgment)
SeriesStudio One


Wrapped around by Betty Furness' primitive but cogent commercials ("You can be sure if it's Westinghouse") and an appeal to contribute to the "Crusade for Freedom" in the cold war against communism, this flickering, black-and-white Kinescope reflects not only the history of Macbeth in performance but the cultural development of the nation itself. That a corporation such as Westinghouse would willingly underwrite Macbeth for the masses again underscores the magnetism of the Shakespearean aura, even to corporate sponsors. If, however, this dreary, lackluster event had anyone's name but Shakespeare's attached to it, the scenarists would have been stripped of their expense accounts and swimming pools. It does, however, provide a fascinating memento of what the "live" television drama of grandfather's day was like. It is anything but polished and slick. The opening sequence that shows the news from the battle being transmitted in lightning flashes has the actors' faces flashing on and off like strobe lights, and one has the sense of looking at a negative rather than a positive print (KSR)

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

MacbethCharlton Heston
Lady MacbethJudith Evelyn
MalcolmPeter Brandon
BanquoPeter Boyne
MacduffDarren McGavin
RossAlan Shayne
AngusAlan Devitt
First WitchJosephine Brown
Third WitchVera Fuller Melish
Second WitchTomi Romer
DoctorDon Dickinson
GentlewomanMarian Seldes

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorFranklin Schaffner
ProducerWorthington Miner
Adaptor/TranslatorWorthington Miner
ProductionWillard Levitas

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell