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A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) is a film directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, produced by Henry Blanke and Hal Wallis, and adapted by Charles Kenyon and Mary C. McCall Jr. from the play by William Shakespeare.


Many of the actors in this version had never performed Shakespeare before and never would do so again, notably Cagney and Brown, who were nevertheless highly acclaimed for their performances. All critics agreed that Dick Powell was horribly miscast as Lysander, and Powell himself concurred with the critics' verdict.

Olivia de Havilland originally auditioned for the role of Puck in Reinhardt's legendary stage production of the play at the Hollywood Bowlmarker. Although the cast of the stage play was mostly replaced by Warner Brothers contract players, de Havilland and Mickey Rooney were chosen to reprise their original roles.

Avant-garde director Kenneth Anger claimed in his book Hollywood Babylon II to have played the changeling prince in this film when he was a child, but in fact the role was played by child star Sheila Brown.


Director Max Reinhardt did not speak English at the time of this film. He gave orders to the actors and crew in German with William Dieterle acting as his interpreter. The film was banned in Nazi Germany because of the Jewish backgrounds of Reinhardt and composer Felix Mendelssohn.

The shooting schedule had to be rearranged after Mickey Rooney broke his leg while skiing. According to Rooney's memoirs, Jack Warner was furious and threatened to kill him and then break his other leg.


Felix Mendelssohn's music was used, but re-orchestrated by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Not all of it was from the incidental music that Mendelssohn had composed for A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1843. Other pieces used were excerpts from the Symphony No. 3 Scottish, the Symphony No. 4 Italian, and the Songs without Words, among others. The ballet sequences featuring the fairies were choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska.


The film won two Academy Awards:

It was nominated for:

Notably, Hal Mohr was not nominated for his work on the movie; he won the Oscar thanks to a grass-roots write-in campaign. It was Mohr who decided that the trees should be sprayed with orange paint, giving them that eerie glow which added to the "fairyland" effect in the film. The next year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declared that it would no longer accept write-in votes for the awards.

Run times

The film was first released at 132 minutes, but was edited to 117 minutes for its general release run. The full 132 minute version was not seen again until it turned up on cable television in 1994. The film was then re-issued at its full length on VHS (its first video release was of the edited version). Later showings on Turner Classic Movies have restored the film's pre-credits Overture, and its Exit Music, neither of which had been heard since its 1935 road show presentations. In August, 2007, it was released on DVD for the first time, both individually and as part of a box set known as "The Shakespeare Collection."


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