Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

Romeo and Juliet (1936, George Cukor)

TitleRomeo and Juliet
Release LocationsUSA
DirectorGeorge Cukor
MediumBlack & white video
Length2 hrs, 6 mins
Audiencecollege and university
general public
high school
Play ConnectionsRomeo and Juliet (interpretation)


Despite the care and attention that went into its production, this film has never been highly regarded. At enormous expense an entire replica, based on first-hand photographs, of an Italian Renaissance city was constructed on a Hollywood back lot. No expense was spared to achieve historical accuracy. Professor Strunk was brought from Cornell University to insure academic respectability and the greatest stars of the day were cast in major roles: Norma Shearer as Juliet, Leslie Howard as Romeo, John Barrymore as Mercutio, Basil Rathbone as Tybalt, and so forth. The Capulet ballroom scene rivalled a Busby Berkeley musical extravaganza. Yet for all these good intentions, the film did poorly both at the box office and at the hands of critics. The leading players, it was said, were too old for the teenage lovers, and yet decades later Zeffirelli would be denounced for having cast actors who were too inexperienced for the roles. I believe the film should be cherished as a masterwork from antiquity: a bit archaic, a little rigid, slightly overdone, but, yes, still withal warm and good (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

RomeoLeslie Howard
JulietNorma Shearer
EscalusConway Tearle
ParisRalph Forbes
MontagueRobert Warwick
Lady MontagueVirginia Hammond
Lady CapuletViolet Cooper
Lord CapuletC. Aubrey Smith
NurseEdna Oliver
MercutioJohn Barrymore
BenvolioReginald Denny
TybaltBasil Rathbone
Friar LaurenceHenry Kolker
PeterAndy Devine

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorGeorge Cukor
ProducerIrving Thalberg
Literary ConsultantWilliam Strunk
EditorMargaret Booth
ComposerHerbert Stothart
ChoreographyAgnes de Mille
ScreenplayTalbot Jennings
CostumesAdrian Messel
CostumesOliver Messel
CameraWilliam Daniels
ProductionCedric Gibbons
SetOliver Messel

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell