Don't know if this has been posted yet. From yesterday's Tribune:
Welles' restored 'Chimes' gets rare showing at Prop
By Michael Wilmington
Tribune movie critic
"Chimes at Midnight," the magnificent 1966 Orson Welles film (also known as "Falstaff"), which Prop Thtr will show in a special restored "work print" for a four-day run starting Thursday, ranks as one of the cinema's most sadly neglected major classics.
Hopefully, that will change this weekend. Prop's Thursday-Sunday showings of Welles' "Chimes" -- his own personal favorite, above "Citizen Kane," among all his works -- represents not only a rare 35 mm theatrical screening of a true film masterpiece, but also the first paid screening of a restored "work print" version from producer Michael Dawson which is a radical improvement on previous releases. (The screenings are part of a fund-raising event at the theater's new space at 3502-04 N. Elston Ave.)
"Chimes" -- Welles' last major fiction feature in his tragically truncated career -- is one of the greatest films ever made, a magnificent Shakespearean adaptation by one of the cinema's most brilliant filmmaker/actors. Excitingly filmed and beautifully acted by an all-star European cast (including John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau and Margaret Rutherford), it's a vibrantly creative picture, with its robust Elizabethan world whirling around the great, earthy star performance Welles himself considered his finest: as boisterous, pleasure-loving, cowardly, hilarious and finally melancholy court hanger-on Sir John Falstaff.
In the four plays from which Welles drew "Chimes" -- "Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2," "Henry V" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" -- Falstaff steals the show from his younger, more heroic or more regal castmates, including war rivals Prince Hal (Baxter) and Hotspur (Norman Rodway). As the crony of young Hal, "Fat Jack" Falstaff is the "bad influence" from whom leonine old Henry IV (Gielgud) wishes to save his son, a plump sower of wild oats and stager of grand revels later to be cast aside.
"Chimes" is lyrical and thrilling, funny and tragic. It has one of the cinema's great battle scenes and one of its most heartbreaking farewells, some of its grandest poetry and most spectacular images. But it is less the tale of a king's coming of age than of the loss of his wild, sensuous heart -- the "bad influence" whose humanity, Welles feels, far outshines the crown.
Welles adapted Shakespeare on stage and screen all his life, from boyhood on. This was his grand, culminating work. But, when "Chimes" was released in 1966, it was (predictably for that time) hailed in Europe but savaged by some powerful American critics for its technical shortcomings -- mostly caused by Welles' lean budget and uncertain schedule.
Among the most obvious of those shortcomings: the film's soundtrack, which, from its first release, was slightly out of sync. That's one of the things partly corrected by Dawson, who also restored Welles' great Shakespearean film, "Othello." The dialogue correction alone gives the film an immediacy and impact denied it before.
The screening has been described as a "work-in-progress." But when I saw an earlier version of Dawson's restoration six years ago it was a revelation. The scenery and images, shot in striking black and white by the French cinematographer Edmond Richard ("The Red Balloon"), have that same old matchless Wellesian dark visual splendor. The sound and speeches were vivid, powerful.
At that time, Dawson was restoring the film for Miramax, but the studio unwisely pulled the plug on the project, only recently rekindled by Dawson and his "Othello" executive producers Edward Stone and Donald Liebsker. Now, Dawson estimates about 8-16 weeks of work left needed to finally complete the restoration. ("Right now, compared to where we'll be, it's 2 on a scale of ten.")
That's inspiring to contemplate. "Chimes at Midnight," a bit like Falstaff himself, was an example of greatness undervalued and cast aside. As we watch it now, we can see once again how the screen could blaze with excitement and grandeur in the hands of those two geniuses and kindred spirits, William Shakespeare and Orson Welles.
The film screens 8 p.m. Thursday- Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday . Tickets are $20, except Saturday when the $50 ticket includes a 6 p.m. reception. Reservations required. 773-486-7767.
"Chimes at Midnight"
Directed and written by Orson Welles; based on William Shakespeare's plays "Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2," "Henry V" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and Raphael Holinshed's "Chronicles"; photographed by Edmond Richard; edited by Fritz Muller; production designed by Gustavo Quintana; music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino; produced by Emiliano Piedra, Angel Escolano. Narrated by Ralph Richardson; opens Thursday at The Prop Thtr. Running time: 1:59. No MPAA rating. Parents cautioned for scenes of violence.
Sir John "Jack" Falstaff ........ Orson Welles
Prince Hal (a.k.a. Henry V) ..... Keith Baxter
King Henry IV ................... John Gielgud
Doll Tearsheet .................. Jeanne Moreau
Mistress Quickly ................ Margaret Rutherford
Henry Percy, called Hotspur ..... Norman Rodway
Justice Swallow ................. Alan Webb
Worcester ....................... Fernando Rey