Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Taming of the Shrew, The (1923)


Main image of Taming of the Shrew, The (1923)
35mm, black and white, silent, 941 feet
DirectorEdwin J. Collins
Production CompanyBritish and Colonial Kinematograph
ProducerEdward Godal
Original PlayWilliam Shakespeare

Cast: Dacia Deane (Katharina), Lauderdale Maitland (Petruchio), M.Gray Murray (Baptista), Cynthia Murtagh (Bianca), Roy Beard (Lucentio)

Show full cast and credits

Baptista seeks to marry his daughters off, but while Bianca has no shortage of admirers, the aggressive, troublesome Katherine provides a greater challenge...

Show full synopsis

This adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew was one of a series of two-reel truncations of classic texts produced by the British and Colonial Kinematograph Company and released under the banner Gems of Literature (another one that survives is A Christmas Carol, also from 1923). The BFI National Archive only has a copy of the second reel, but it includes most of the play's dramatic meat and gives a good impression of what the whole must have been like.

Unsurprisingly, it's a considerable simplification of the play, with the intertitles alternating between presenting brief excerpts from Shakespeare's original text and explanatory scene-setting. The staging is theatrical and the camerawork basic. Most shots simply frame the entire set, with only a handful of medium close-ups to add visual interest - the only significant stylistic advance on the films that F.R. Benson made a decade earlier (Richard III and others, 1911).

But in terms of script and performance, it's a competent enough trot through one of Shakespeare's better-known creations. Given the extreme truncation, neither Lauderdale Maitland as a rather portly Petruchio nor Dacia Dean as Katharina manage to invest their roles with much subtlety, though she does at least make a plausible fist of the transition from raging harpy to docile admirer. The extremely abrupt ending may be the result of print damage.

Michael Brooke

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete second half (10:02)
Silent Shakespeare
The Taming of the Shrew On Screen