The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s later film career, Chimes at Midnight returns to the screen after being unavailable for decades. This brilliantly crafted Shakespeare adaptation was the culmination of Welles’s lifelong obsession with the Bard’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff, the loyal, often soused childhood friend of King Henry IV’s wayward son, Prince Hal. Appearing in several plays as a comic supporting figure, Falstaff is here the main event: a robustly funny and ultimately tragic screen antihero, played by Welles with lumbering grace. Integrating elements from both Henry IV plays as well as Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Welles created an unorthodox Shakespeare film that is also a gritty period piece, one that he called “a lament . . . for the death of Merrie England.” Poetic, philosophical, and visceral—with a kinetic battle sequence centerpiece as impressive as anything else Welles directed—Chimes at Midnight is as monumental as the figure at its center.
Shot outside of Pittsburgh at a fraction of the cost of a Hollywood feature by a band of filmmakers determined to make their mark, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is one of the great stories of independent cinema: a midnight hit turned box-office smash that became one of the most influential films of all time.
George A. Romero
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