Monday, February 12, 2018

Happy Birthday, Franco Zeffirelli

A suave Italian filmmaker.  A rich visual style seems to have been a trademark of his work.  That an often unconventional casting.  For all her years of stardom, Hollywood never paired Elizabeth Taylor with The Bard.  But, under Franco Zeffirelli's direction, Elizabeth Taylor tackled some Shakespeare with her then-husband, Richard Burton.  He was a pro at playing Shakespeare onstage.  During their internationally famous marriage, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had a go at Shakespeare in Franco Zeffirelli's 1967 film, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Mel Gibson put down his LETHAL WEAPON to put on medieval attire and play HAMLET for Zeffirelli in a 1990 film co-starring Glenn Close.
The filmmaker also gave us the 1979 remake of the MGM classic, THE CHAMP.  His version starred Jon Voight, Faye Dunaway and a very young Ricky Schroeder taking on a kid role made famous by Jackie Cooper.
That was followed by the very popular tale of teen romance, 1981's ENDLESS LOVE starring former child model-turned-very good actress Brooke Shields.
Franco Zeffirelli really hit the box office jackpot with his 1968 adaptation of Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET.  These were the caped characters that young moviegoers were paying to see back then.  Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey played the star-crossed teen lovers.  Zeffirelli's film was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture of 1968.

Even the film's soundtrack was a hit.
Music legend Paul McCartney told me about another idea for unconventional casting that director Franco Zeffirelli had.
And there you have it.  Some Beatles trivia blended into birthday greetings for Franco Zeffirelli.

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