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A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)

aka A Midsummer Night's Dream

Details: 133 mins · English


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Small Theseus, Duke of Athens
Small Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons
No_movie_poster Philostrate, Master of Revels to Theseus
Small Lysander, In love with Hermia
Small Demetrius, In love with Hermia
Small Hermia, In love with Lysander (as Olivia de Haviland)
No_movie_poster Helena, In love with Demetrius
No_movie_poster Egeus, Father to Hermia
Small Quince, the Carpenter
Small Snug, the Joiner
Small Bottom, the Weaver
Small Flute, the Bellows-mender
Small Snout, the Tinker
No_movie_poster Starveling, the Tailor
No_movie_poster Epilogue
No_movie_poster Egeus
Small Francis Flute
Small Theseus
Small Peter Quince
Small Demetrius
Small Hippolyta
No_movie_poster Philostrate
No_movie_poster Helena
Small Puck
Small Titania
Small Tom Snout
No_movie_poster Robin Starveling
Small Snug
Small Hermia
Small Oberon
Small Lysander
Small Nick Bottom


Small William Shakespeare Theatre Play
Small William Dieterle Director
No_movie_poster Max Reinhardt Director
No_movie_poster Henry Blanke Production
No_movie_poster Charles Kenyon Writer
Small William Shakespeare Story Contributor
No_movie_poster Ralph Dawson Editing


Part one

A beautiful young woman named Hermia (Olivia de Havilland) is in love with Lysander (Dick Powell) and wishes to marry him. Her father Egeus, however, has instructed her to marry Demetrius (Ross Alexander), whom he has chosen for her. When Hermia refuses to obey, stating she is in love with Lysander, her father invokes before Duke Theseus of Athens (Ian Hunter) an ancient Athenian law that states a daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death. Theseus offers her another choice—to live a life of chastity as a nun and worship the goddess Diana.

Meanwhile, Peter Quince and his fellow players gather to produce a stage play about the cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe in honor of the Duke and his upcoming marriage to Hippolyta (Verree Teasdale). Quince reads the names of characters and bestows them to the players. Nick Bottom (James Cagney), who is playing the main role of Pyramus, is overly-enthusiastic and suggests himself for the characters of Thisbe, the Lion, and Pyramus at the same time. He would also prefer being a tyrant and recites some lines of Ercles. Quince ends the meeting instructing his players to meet at the Duke's oak tree.

In the forest outside Athens, Oberon (Victor Jory), the king of the fairies, and Titania (Anita Louise) his queen, are having an argument. Titania tells Oberon that she plans to stay there to attend the wedding of Duke Theseus and Hippolyta. Oberon and Titania are estranged because she refuses to give her Indian changeling to Oberon for use as his knight, since the child's mother was one of Titania's worshippers. Wanting to punish Titania's disobedience, Oberon instructs his mischievous court jester Puck (Mickey Rooney) to retrieve a flower called "love-in-idleness". Originally a white flower, it turns purple when struck by Cupid's bow. When someone applies the magical love potion to a sleeping person's eyelids, it makes the victim fall in love with the first living creature seen upon awakening.

Oberon comes across a sleeping Titania and applies the love potion to her eyes. He intends to make Titania fall in love with the first creature she sees when waking up, which he is sure will be an animal of the forest. Oberon's intent is to shame Titania into giving up the little Indian changeling.

Meanwhile, Hermia and Lysander have escaped to the same forest in hopes of eloping. Demetrius, who is also in love with Hermia, pursues them into the forest. He is followed by Helena (Jean Muir), who is desperate to reclaim Demetrius' love. Helena continues to make advances towards Demetrius, promising to love him more than Hermia, but he rebuffs her with cruel insults. When Oberon sees this, he orders Puck to spread some of the love potion on the eyelids of Demetrius. When Puck later discovers the sleeping Lysander, he mistakes him for Demetrius—not having seen either before—and administers the love potion to the sleeping Lysander.

During the night, Helena comes across the sleeping Lysander and wakes him up while attempting to determine whether he is dead or asleep. When he lays eyes on her, Lysander immediately falls in love with Helena. Meanwhile, the mischievous Puck turns Bottom into a donkey. When Titania wakes up and lays eyes on Bottom as a donkey, she falls in love with him. Oberon finds the abandoned changeling and takes him away.

Part two

When Oberon sees Demetrius still following Hermia, he instructs Puck to bring Helena to him while he applies the love potion to the sleeping Demetrius' eyes. Upon waking up, Demetrius sees Helena, and now both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Helena, who is convinced that her two suitors are simply mocking her. When Hermia encounters Helena with her two suitors, she accuses Helena of stealing Lysander away from her. The four quarrel with each other until Lysander and Demetrius become so enraged that they seek a place to duel each other to prove whose love for Helena is the greatest. Oberon orders Puck to keep Lysander and Demetrius from catching up with one another and to remove the charm from Lysander. After Puck applies the potion to the sleeping Lysander's eyes, he returns to loving Hermia, while Demetrius continues to love Helena. And Titania is still in love with Bottom the donkey.

Oberon leads all the fairies away with the changeling at his side. Having achieved his goals, Oberon releases Titania from her spell and they leave together in love once again. Following Oberon's instructions, Puck removes the donkey's head from Bottom, and arranges everything so that Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena all believe that they have been dreaming when they awaken. Together they return from the forest to attend the wedding of Duke Theseus and Hippolyta. When Theseus sees Hermia and her father Egeus, and seeing that Demetrius does not love Hermia any more, Theseus overrules Egeus's demands and arranges a group wedding—Hermia to marry Lysander, and Helena to marry Demetrius. The lovers decide that the previous night's events must have been a dream.

That night at the wedding, they all watch Bottom and his fellow players perform Pyramus and Thisbe. Unprepared as they are, the performers are so terrible playing their roles to the point where the guests laugh as if it were meant to be a comedy. Before the encore, the guests sneak away and retire to bed. Afterwards, Oberon, Titania, Puck, and the other fairies enter, and bless the house and its occupants with good fortune. After everyone leaves, Puck suggests to the audience that what they just experienced might be nothing but a dream.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1936-01-20 : Sweden

Theatrical : 1935-10-09 : London

Theatrical : 1935-10-09 : New York City

Theatrical : 1935-12-21 : Denmark

Theatrical : 1935-10-30 : United States of America

Theatrical : 1938-06-03 : Portugal

Theatrical : 1935-11-17 : Finland

Theatrical : 1935-11-05 : Austria

Television : 1962-10-01 : West Germany