Monday, September 30, 2013

Minnesota Opera’s “Manon Lescaut”

Alas, Kelly Kaduce’s Manon carried more than a whiff of the middle-aged hausfrau from Bremen. Had Kaduce possessed a deeper understanding of Puccini’s idiom and the Italian style, her other shortcomings would not have mattered so much.

The man dancing at Kaduce’s side bore an alarming resemblance to Osmo Vänskä, needing only a bottle of vodka to complete the successful red-faced impersonation.

Regional Opera At Its Worst

On Thursday evening, Joshua and I took Josh’s sister to Saint Paul to attend a Minnesota Opera performance of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut”.

The performance was disappointing.

Michael Christie’s conducting lacked the drive and sweep Puccini’s score requires, and the orchestra was too small—sixty players—to produce the radiance of sound that is an essential part of Puccini’s sound world. Minnesota Opera uses what is, in effect, a pickup orchestra, and on Thursday evening the sounds emanating from the pit were those of a pickup ensemble. No one who has heard Puccini’s earliest masterpiece played by a real orchestra would have found the work of the instrumentalists used by Minnesota Opera anything other than proficient.

“Manon Lescaut” was the fourth opera I have heard Christie conduct at Minnesota Opera, and I have become less impressed each time I have encountered his work. Christie is, I fear, a modern-day Cal Stewart Kellogg: a conductor whose skill level will always confine him to engagements with regional enterprises.

Minnesota’s home-grown diva, the locally-ubiquitous Kelly Kaduce, sang Manon. Kaduce is an effective stage animal, but she lacks a first-class instrument (as well as the heft the role of Manon requires). If watching a silent film, I would have found Kaduce’s portrayal of Manon worthy of some respect. Hearing Kaduce’s Manon was another matter—it was a reaffirmation of the reason why Kaduce, with a career almost two decades old, has never been touched by a major house: her voice is insufficiently fine for a major theater to offer her even the tiny role of the madrigal singer in the same opera.

The other cast members were even less impressive than Kaduce. The des Grieux surely needed five more years of study before being unloosed on the world, and the remainder of the cast list displayed a level of artistry to be encountered at minor music conservatories. I cannot recall the last time I attended a Minnesota Opera presentation in which the casting had been so poor; Minnesota Opera’s “Manon Lescaut” was regional opera at its worst.

The physical production had been rented from Washington Opera, and I had seen the production at its unveiling in Washington in 2004. Although fairly elaborate, the production is not a handsome one—the colors are garish, and the designs are a hackneyed blend of realism and surrealism. Given the unattractive color scheme, the costumes are quite good.

During much of the performance, texts from the Prévost novel—in English translation—were projected onto the back of the stage. I presume this was intended to give the audience something to read once the program booklet had been devoured, surely a conciliatory gesture, when one considers how uninteresting were the onstage proceedings.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Puccini’s Post-“Manon Lescaut” Postcard

Until World War II, it was common practice for Europe’s artists—authors, composers, singers, actors, dancers—to keep a stock of postcards on hand to send to well-wishers.

Puccini never enjoyed a success until “Manon Lescaut”, but “Manon Lescaut” proved such an instant sensation that Puccini became an overnight celebrity in Europe—and had the above postcard created, a postcard he continued to send to well-wishers until at least 1911. (There were other postcards Puccini was to commission, including the well-known 1895 full-length photographic portrait as well as the famous cameo portrait and the famous overcoat portrait, both of which post-date “Tosca”.)

“Manon Lescaut” premiered in Turin in 1893. Exactly one week later, Verdi’s “Falstaff” premiered in Milan.

The changing of the guard had occurred . . . although no one was to realize it for some years to come.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tonight At 7:30

Giacomo Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” at Minnesota Opera.

Minnesota Opera has rented the 2004 Washington Opera production of “Manon Lescaut”. I saw that production when I was in law school, during the production’s initial run of performances, and it is not a good one.

Nonetheless, I have always been fond of “Manon Lescaut”, and I shall be happy to hear the opera again tonight.

We last heard “Manon Lescaut” in February 2008, when we attended a performance at the Metropolitan Opera.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Other than a football game (Minnesota’s season-opening win over U.N.L.V.), Joshua and I have seen and done nothing since returning from Canada more than six weeks ago.

We skipped Bloomington Civic Theatre’s presentation of “Singin’ In The Rain”, a production now closed. I have never seen any of the stage adaptations of the musical film, and I doubt I have missed much; the very notion of turning one of Hollywood’s greatest musicals into a stage vehicle strikes me as wrong-headed. In any case, we were told that the B.C.T. “Singin’ In The Rain” was not good.

We intend to skip Jungle Theater’s current production of “Fool For Love” because we are not in the mood for a Sam Shepard play. A couple of years ago, Josh and I saw an exceptional production of Shepard’s “True West” at Minneapolis Theatre Garage, but we are not keen on more Shepard at present. I have to be in the proper frame of mind to tolerate Shepard’s fundamentally ugly view of mankind, and at the moment I am not in that frame of mind.

Everything else on our list has been saved for this coming weekend, when Josh’s sister will come for a visit.

Despite the fact that Josh’s sister has no interest in sports, we plan to take her to the Minnesota/Iowa game. For us, this is the most important game of the year—we seldom miss the Minnesota/Iowa game—and we hope she will find some enjoyment at the stadium. Saturday will be Homecoming, and extra festivities will be on offer in addition to the standard game-day attractions.

We have tickets for Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” at Minnesota Opera, and we are confident that Josh’s sister will enjoy the Puccini.

We also have tickets for Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” at The Guthrie Theater, and we have tickets for David Auburn’s “Proof” at Bloomington Civic Theatre.

Further, we have tickets for Molière’s “The Imaginary Invalid” at Theatre In The Round, but we shall not use them. We had looked forward immensely to the Molière, but our former landlady warned us off the production, telling us that Theatre In The Round’s “The Imaginary Invalid” was the worst thing to hit the Upper Midwest in decades.

Instead, at our former landlady’s insistence, we shall see a production that had not even been on our list: David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People” at Park Square Theatre. Our former landlady says that “Good People” is the finest production in town, and must not be missed—and we have decided to heed our former landlady’s advice.

Consequently, between Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon, we shall be dragging Josh’s sister to three plays, one opera and one football game.

However, only one of the plays, and not two, will be a classic—a slight change from our original plans.

Monday, September 23, 2013

More Fight Scenes

“The Three Musketeers” at The Stratford Festival. We caught “The Three Musketeers” on our final evening at Stratford.

There were countless fight scenes in the Stratford “Three Musketeers”—according to the program booklet, there were fifteen fight scenes in Act I alone—and by the third fight scene I was already growing weary.

I was not alone. The audience appeared to be bored out of its mind—and, by my estimation, approximately one-third of the audience failed to return to the auditorium after intermission.

For us, Saturday, August 10, 2013, will go down as the day we experienced a lifetime’s dosage of fight scenes: innumerable fight scenes in an afternoon “Romeo And Juliet”, followed by a mind-numbing tally of fight scenes in an evening “Three Musketeers”.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Deathlike Sleep

The Romeo and the Juliet in The Stratford Festival “Romeo And Juliet”.

The Juliet was old enough to be the mother of the Romeo.

To my astonishment, the production cut both the Prologue and the Epilogue.

The fight scenes—if nothing else—were good.

We had more fight scenes in store that evening . . .

If nothing else, The Stratford Festival does fight scenes to a high standard.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

“For Never Was A Story Of More Woe . . .”

On our fourth day at The Stratford Festival, we attended a matinee performance of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo And Juliet”.

As a practical matter, the production was dead in the water, upfront, because the actor and actress portraying the title characters were so poor. The young man playing Romeo looked the part, but could not act his way out of a cardboard box. The middle-aged woman playing Juliet was more than one generation too old for the part, and her portrayal was arch and insincere (as well as insufferable).

We were told by a Stratford resident that the actor playing Romeo had engaged in vicious rows with the play’s director during the rehearsal period—the actor had accused the director of trying to destroy his career—and that the Juliet had been cast only because she is a favored pet of the Festival’s Artistic Director.

Whatever the root causes of such fatal miscasting, the audience was required to block out the title characters in order to endure the performance.

The Stratford Festival had mounted an “original practices” production of “Romeo And Juliet”. The house lights were kept up throughout the performance—which meant, in a thrust theater, that other audience members were as visible as the actors onstage. The lighting plan was fixed and unvaried; night scenes looked exactly like day scenes. The stage was bare, other than an occasional prop. The costuming was pure Elizabethan—and the costuming was cumbersome, and unattractive, and supremely unflattering to everyone onstage.

There were no pauses between scenes; actors would rush on for a new scene before actors from the previous scene had departed the stage. Several times during the course of the performance, this practice created unintended comedy.

The text was delivered as verse, not as prose. There was a pause at the end of each line; fifth and tenth syllables were emphasized, irrespective of context or sense. “Rigid, metrical delivery” was how my mother described the cast’s handling of iambic pentameter. The program booklet claimed that “singsong” utterances of Shakespeare’s text had been standard practice well into the 19th Century, and that such utterances must be replicated in an “original practices” production.

Monologues were always delivered directly to the audience. Much interplay between cast and audience was invited—but, as always in North America, the audience was reluctant to play along, preferring that the invisible barrier between stage and audience remain in place.

A quartet of musicians—lute, violin, recorder, drum—played music during much of the play (the musicians also played before the performance, and during the single intermission). The production featured endless dancing. The numerous fight scenes went on forever.

The man responsible for this hash was British director Tim Carroll. Between 1999 and 2005, Carroll had staged “original practices” summer productions at London’s Globe Theatre. Since 2005, Carroll has been trying to pick up work elsewhere. In 2008, we had encountered Carroll’s thoroughly incompetent Royal Shakespeare Company production of “The Merchant Of Venice” at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

In that 2008 “Merchant Of Venice”, it had been painfully obvious that Carroll was no director of actors. Last month’s “Romeo And Juliet” only reinforced, ponderously, that particular skill deficiency. In both Carroll productions, everyone onstage floundered; there was no sense of ensemble, no unified acting style, no emotional resonance.

In Carroll’s “Romeo And Juliet”, there was much broad—and unsightly—overplaying (by contrast, in Carroll’s “Merchant Of Venice”, the cast had appeared to have abandoned all interest in the proceedings). So over-the-top were the “Romeo And Juliet” performances, I wanted—for three hours—to leap onstage and slap numerous cast members, starting with Paris, Mercutio and the nurse.

There was much laughter during the performance, all of it uncomfortable. If Shakespeare’s tragedy had been properly registering with the audience, there would—a couple of early scenes apart—have been no laughter at all.

To my amazement, there was laughter even during the tomb scene—which, I grant, was abjectly mis-staged and misplayed.

At the conclusion of the tomb scene, Romeo and Juliet promptly leapt to their feet and joined the rest of the company in a hearty closing jig—which did not destroy the mood created by the end of the play, no one having been moved by the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in the first place. The jig, somehow, was a fitting conclusion to a production that was wrong-headed in every way.

With reference to the jig, my father wryly noted: “Well, that was one solution to the problem: how to get the bodies offstage so that the audience can leave the theater.”

Given such a tone-deaf production, I predict that Carroll, who has never had a U.S. career, will not be invited back to Stratford—nor will he find it necessary to remain near his phone, waiting for a call from The Guthrie.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gosh! Who Knew?

That in his youth Michel Foucault wore such snazzy suits.

Gosh! Who Knew?

That Michel Foucault once had hair.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Bottle Dance

The bottle dance in The Stratford Festival’s “Fiddler On The Roof”.

“Fiddler On The Roof”

On our third day at The Stratford Festival, we attended an evening performance of the Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick-Joseph Stein musical, “Fiddler On The Roof”.

I had not anticipated being captivated by such over-familiar material, but the Stratford “Fiddler On The Roof” proved to be the finest—by far—of the eight Stratford productions we caught. I never expect to see a finer presentation of “Fiddler On The Roof”.

The production was exceedingly well-cast and meticulously rehearsed, and the cast members gave fresh, vital, committed performances. The energy onstage was infectious, yet there was no playing to the crowd.

The Tevye was Scott Wentworth, who had played Shylock that same afternoon on the very same stage. Wentworth’s Tevye was admirable, serious and controlled, full of gravitas, underplaying the comedy. His Tevye was tough as nails, yet also poetic—and it was easy to accept that he was a commanding, even overwhelming, figure in his family and community. Had it been necessary, Wentworth might have held the show together all by himself (which is what he had been required to do in “The Merchant Of Venice”). Wentworth is an exceptional actor—and this season’s Stratford Festival has turned him into a star in Canada.

The rest of the cast acquitted itself with honor—even the smallest parts came alive—although the Golde might have been stronger (we had seen the actress playing Golde in two roles at last year’s Shaw Festival, and she had been distinctly unimpressive at Niagara-On-The-Lake, too).

The production was a conservative, traditional one, probably much like the original Broadway production (the Stratford design team had even taken its cues from Chagall). There was no attempt to do anything new or unusual with the material. The director must have decided that the show virtually plays itself if staged in a clear, straightforward manner.

Strictures exist when staging “Fiddler On The Roof”. The Jerome Robbins choreography must be recreated, without excisions and without emendations. (I assume licensing requirements for the choreography are somewhat relaxed for high school and amateur performance.) Very little leeway is granted in terms of performing the musical numbers or the book. The setting of the show may not be altered, and the stage design and costume design must remain within specified parameters.

Licensing demands did not hamper the Stratford production. There was no want of imagination, no evidence that “originality” was the missing ingredient. Every scene worked to perfection, every musical number came off, which says much about the skill of the creators of the show.

The audience was enthralled for three hours. I cannot recall the last time I experienced an audience so attentive and so responsive to what was happening onstage.

In many ways, it is ironic that a company that bills itself as “North America’s finest classical repertory theater” was at its best in an American musical. The Schiller/Shakespeare productions we attended were nowhere near as fine—or as confident—as the “Fiddler On The Roof”. Somehow I doubt this is what Tyrone Guthrie had in mind when he founded The Stratford Festival (of course, Guthrie’s other child, The Guthrie Theater, has also lost its way over time).

Nonetheless, it was the Stratford “Fiddler On The Roof” that most of all made our trip to Canada worthwhile. The production remains in my memory. It was so remarkable, I don’t think I want to go near the show again for a very long time.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

“Merchant”: The Courtroom Scene

The pivotal courtroom scene in The Stratford Festival production of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant Of Venice”.

Shakespeare’s “Merchant”

On our third day at The Stratford Festival, we attended a matinee performance of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant Of Venice”.

The performance we attended was, in effect, a preview performance; the production was not to have an official opening for another week.

“The Merchant Of Venice” had originally been scheduled for a July opening, but The Stratford Festival had postponed the opening until mid-August—a sure sign of production troubles. When we had acquired our tickets in June, we had acquired tickets for a performance during the official run; we were, in consequence, disappointed that we ended up being handed a preview performance.

I thought the production, on the whole, was a good one. It was certainly the finest “Merchant Of Venice” I have ever encountered.

At its center was a great Shylock, Canadian actor Scott Wentworth, who gave a riveting performance. Wentworth played Shylock as a wounded man, withdrawn from society—and, as a result, lacking some measure of self-awareness—because of society’s mistreatment of a religious minority. Wentworth’s interpretation was an interesting one, well-considered and well-played, and it worked in terms of the production.

The director, Antoni Cimolino, set the play in the late 1930s, a time at which Benito Mussolini was at the height of his power—and a time at which Mussolini first introduced anti-Jewish legislation, a fall-out of Italy’s new alliance with Germany. Until Mussolini began currying favor with Hitler, Italy had never contemplated an anti-Jewish agenda—but, from 1938 on, Italy adopted much of the same anti-Jewish legal framework that had been employed in Germany since 1933.

In Cimolino’s staging, there was much taunting of Shylock by children and policemen. Most characters in the play treated Shylock with open contempt (including Portia, which was a major error). Shylock’s daughter sought marriage not for love but in order to find refuge within Gentile society. Shylock, in response to these changing circumstances, retreated within himself and became a remote, isolated figure.

I found Cimolino’s interpretation of the play intriguing—although I can well understand why others were put off.

In many ways, Cimolino had offered a one-dimensional “Merchant Of Venice”. Many of Shylock’s lines had been excised—all unpleasant self-examination, all negative character revelations, all admissions against interest had been cut from the playing text—with the result that Shylock became more acted-upon than actor in his own fate. Cimolino’s interpretation unbalanced the play, and robbed it of much of its richness and complexity. Shylock, after all, was not written as an admirable character; one of Shakespeare’s themes was that even an odious man must be accorded a measure of dignity and respect. Pruning the text in order to turn Shylock into an innocent Holocaust victim, waiting to be sent to the camps, involved a serious rewriting of Shakespeare.

The supporting cast was very, very poor. The Portia was dreadful—all the women onstage were dreadful—although the Portia managed to offer a passable courtroom scene. In that respect, the Portia reminded me of a soprano that marks time in a Donizetti opera until springing to life in the mad scene. A couple of the male actors grossly overplayed their parts, to ridiculous excess; the rest were borderline competent.

Yet with a great Shylock at the center of the play, none of this made any difference. Wentworth’s Shylock single-handedly carried the production, and rendered everything else irrelevant.

A pastiche 1930s movie score had been composed for the production. Audio clips of Hitler speeches and Mussolini speeches played in the background—until, at the end of the play, such speeches played in the foreground.

Sunday, September 08, 2013


Scott Wentworth in the role of Shylock in The Stratford Festival production of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant Of Venice”.

I thought Wentworth’s Shylock was the performance of the Festival.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Festival Theatre, Stratford

It was only on our third day at The Stratford Festival that we finally attended a performance in the primary venue, the Festival Theatre. All four performances we were to attend on our final two days at Stratford were at the Festival Theatre.

The Festival Theatre opened in 1957. It accommodates 1826 patrons.

Stratford Festival productions expected to be most popular at the box office are presented at the Festival Theatre. We saw “The Merchant Of Venice”, “Fiddler On The Roof”, “Romeo And Juliet” and “The Three Musketeers” at the Festival Theatre.

The Festival Theatre is too large for all but the most gargantuan of productions (such as big musicals). In the last half-century, the scale of theaters has been significantly reduced—rightly, in my opinion. If the Festival Theatre were to be recreated today, it would undoubtedly be one-third smaller. As it is, the Festival Theatre is far from an ideal playing space: it is somewhat barn-like and antiseptic, aesthetically arid and in no way inviting.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

“The Triumph Of A Genius”

An outtake from “Der Triumph eines Genies”, a 1940 German film released at the height of German conquest.

The film is a biographic depiction of the early years of Friedrich Schiller, more or less ending with his first dramatic triumph, “The Robbers”.

I do not believe the film has an especially poor reputation, although it has never been considered one of the classics of world cinema.

Some cinema scholars have argued that the film was made in order to invite a comparison between the genius of Schiller and the supposed genius of Hitler. Other cinema scholars have argued that the film, in truth, undercut the Nazi regime, celebrating both freedom and free will. Neither side has offered compelling evidence in support of its view.

I suspect the film, most likely, was merely a commercial project, fully in keeping with the biographical films Hollywood churned out by the dozen in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Such films were popular at the time, everywhere, and it may be unwise, in the absence of proof, to ascribe motives to a particular project.

Most German films released between 1933 and 1945 were nothing more than mindless entertainment; in that respect, German cinema was no different than cinema in Britain, Russia or the U.S.

“The Blame Diminishes As The Guilt Increases”

It is criminal to steal a purse, daring to steal a fortune, a mark of greatness to steal a crown. The blame diminishes as the guilt increases.

Friedrich Schiller

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Stratford’s “Mary Stuart”, Again

The Stratford Festival “Mary Stuart”, by and large, had received excellent notices.

All reviewers had offered a uniform interpretation of the play—its theme, they claimed, was religious zealotry—and such nonsense suggested two things: they had never read Schiller’s play; and they had relied upon a Stratford Festival press kit proffered to reviewers in order to interpret the play.

A couple of reviewers had zinged the actress portraying Mary Stuart, and a couple of different reviewers had zinged the actress portraying Elizabeth I, but otherwise the acting ensemble was praised. Such assessments were, I thought, unfounded: the quality of the ensemble was nowhere good enough to carry such a rich and rewarding drama. The main characters were so weakly portrayed that a young actor in the subsidiary role of Mortimer riveted the audience’s attention each time he appeared. His name: Ian Lake.

The reviewers had praised the direction of Antoni Cimolino. Cimolino had assumed the leadership of The Stratford Festival this season, and “Mary Stuart” had been his first production as Artistic Director. I suspect the reviewers had been hesitant to offer meaningful and accurate assessments of Cimolino’s work—Cimolino’s work was not good—because “Mary Stuart” was Cimolino’s inaugural production.

Perhaps attempts to reintroduce the works of Schiller to English-speaking audiences should be abandoned. Every time I have seen a Schiller production in North America or the U.K., the effort has been manhandled by directors and actors both.

English-language critics have proven themselves to be equally clueless on the subject of Schiller. Ben Brantley’s New York Times review of the 2005 Donmar Warehouse production of “Mary Stuart”, staged on Broadway in 2009, had to be seen to be believed. A Kenneth Tynan review of a 1958 Old Vic production of “Mary Stuart” described the play as “a Spanish tragedy composed of themes borrowed from Hamlet and Phèdre”—words that trailed Tynan to his grave.

And the issue of the ridiculous runway thrust at Stratford remains. Mercifully, we saw only two productions at the venue with the runway thrust—“Measure For Measure” and “Mary Stuart”—and I doubt I shall ever again be enticed into such an unsatisfactory playing space. Watching the awkward placements of actors around the large and impractical arena—first a scene over here, then a scene over there—made it hard for us to take anything seriously.

To our amusement, my brother proved amazingly accurate in predicting where each succeeding formation of actors would occur. (He is, after all, an engineer.)

My mother said that watching “Mary Stuart” was akin to watching grade school pupils being shepherded around a gymnasium during some peculiar elementary-school pageant.

Joshua said the whole thing reminded him of marching band practice in high school.

My father said the arena should be flooded and used for the presentation of mock naval battles.

Myself, I would refuse to work in such a space, as director or actor. So many compromises are involved—scenic compromises, lighting compromises, blocking compromises—that any production other than a spectacle is destined to fail.

In such an unsatisfying venue, in any given scene, roughly 75 per cent of the audience is frozen out of the action—in which case I say: “Why bother?”

Monday, September 02, 2013

Another Outtake From “Mary, Queen Of Scots”

In 1969, Universal Pictures had enjoyed an unexpected commercial success with “Anne Of The Thousand Days”, a presentation of the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

One of the consequences of that unexpected success was that Universal Pictures decided to green-light a second royal bio-epic, “Mary, Queen Of Scots”, with the same director, Charles Jarrott.

“Anne Of The Thousand Days” had been Jarrott’s first film. “Mary, Queen Of Scots” was to be his second. Jarrott’s third film, a disastrous musical remake of “Lost Horizon”, more or less ended his association with prestige projects, although he continued to work, on and off, on minor projects, until retiring from the film industry in 2001.

(Jarrott died in 2011. A friend of mine, an attorney in Los Angeles and a resident of Woodland Hills, was a neighbor of Jarrott at the time of Jarrott’s death.)

In many ways, “Mary, Queen Of Scots” is a beautiful film.

It is beautifully lighted and beautifully photographed, courtesy of Christopher Challis, who offers the finest work of his career. Many of the scenes, such as those shot at Château de Chenonceau, are ravishing.

The film’s costuming is rich and detailed. Interior design is of the highest quality. Exterior locations were chosen with care.

In short, the “look” of the film is marvelous. “Mary, Queen Of Scots” is nowise a television film masquerading as a theatrical release, the signal failing of most films about historic figures.

The screenplay is neither poetic nor memorable, yet it is serviceable and never offensive. John Barry’s pseudo-Tudor music score is attractive. Most small roles are expertly cast and expertly played.

Why, then, is the film not more highly regarded?

The problems, I believe, reside in the film’s editing and direction.

The film never acquires a rhythm, and is unable to sustain tension or build to a climax—shortcomings that must be blamed on the editing team.

Fatally, the film lacks style and individuality, shortcomings that must be blamed on the director, who fundamentally had a limited grasp of the film medium.

And yet the film is very much a pleasure to experience (and must be seen in a letter-boxed version). I suspect “Mary, Queen Of Scots” draws respectable audiences when shown on cable movie channels—it seems to pop up with some frequency—and over time the film probably has acquired a devoted audience.

The outtake is from the scene in which Mary Stuart, having just returned from France following the death of the French sovereign (Stuart’s husband), greets her new Scottish subjects.