Here stands a rebuke to the idea that in the digitized world everything is available. Well, if you strain a bit you can get this notoriously out of print movie. The Brazilian version of the semi-legal Chimes at Midnight aka Falstaff aka Campanadas a Medianoche can be bought for a cool $40, and all you do is turn off the Portuguese subtitles. However, thanks to the poor sound of this masterpiece, English subtitles might be necessary. The entire film was post-synced: "not a word in direct sound," said the co-star Keith Baxter, who played Prince Hal. Led by the obtuse Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, critics of 1967 put their finger on this very obvious button. Few of them considered how few viewers come out of a movie saying, "Boy, the picture, the script and the acting sucked, but wasn't the sound great?"
Last Sunday, the local film archive showed Chimes at Midnight; me and 100 other people turned our back on a sunny afternoon, and treated ourselves to a rare 16mm screening of one of the most imaginative, stirring and beautifully composed Shakespeare films ever made. I mentioned it to Cinematical's Jeffrey Anderson and he pronounced Chimes at Midnight a better film than Citizen Kane. I don't have that kind of enthusiasm (Citizen Kane changes lives, and Chimes is a rougher sell). And still, everyone will tell you about Citizen Kane, whereas Chimes is not just a gem but a half-buried one.