Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet belongs among the classics, nevertheless making a great film based on the immortal Shakespeare play is not that easy. Aside from capturing the right atmosphere, and getting the costumes right, there is the important challenge of actually bringing the spark between the two main characters to the screen.
Another and crucial part is to cast actors who are the right age or at least who are believable relative to the age of the main protagonists. This became a major problem in the 1936 film, in which Leslie Howard played Romeo at the age of 43 while Norma Shearer as Juliet was in her thirties.
On balance, so far the best of the Romeo and Juliet films was the version from 1968. Why? The fact that the film was technically masterful was one thing, but equally important was the fact that Franco Zeffirelli cast just the right couple in the lead roles. Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were charming teenagers who happened to fall in love even in real life, bringing an excellent authenticity to the movie.
Professor Henry Higgins’s ageless bet that he could change the working-class girl Eliza Doolittle into a young lady who would blend in high society – that’s Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Looking at it from any which way, the best of the film adaptations is My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn.
Also worth mentioning is Pygmalion from 1938.
Charles Dickens is another author whose novels have found their way to the motion picture screen. Best of all is Oliver Twist, the story of a poor orphan who escapes from an orphanage and who has to survive in difficult conditions and who by circumstances becomes a member of a gang of thieves, was probably most accurately captured in the version from 1948. The hostile, hopeless, miserable atmosphere is most authentic in this film.
This adaptation was not surpassed even by the Roman Polanski film of the same name, released in 2005. Over all, however, the 2005 version was also a very good movie.
The legend of Robin Hood has appeared in multiple novels by different authors.
The quality of depiction of Robin Hood in movies has varied and has often had some of the characteristics of parody, perhaps due to audience expectations that were simply unrealistically high. Paradoxically, one of the best was a BBC series from 1980s called Robin of Sherwood.
And talking about parody, one is Robin Hood: Men in Tights.