9. Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)
This Dream is truly dreamy. Made at the height of Hollywood’s original golden age, it was based on Reinhardt’s hugely successful stage adaptation, which had played to enormous audiences at the Hollywood Bowl. Reinhardt was primarily a stage director and A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first and only film (Dieterle, a far more experienced movie-maker, was hired to work alongside him). This firm grounding in the world of the theatre ensured that the poetry and dramatisation of the play were superb, but in addition there were numerous cinematic delights: a starry cast, including Jimmy Cagney as a marvellously mischievous Bottom; state-of-the-art special effects that brought the “fairy kingdom” to life; and a lustrous score by arguably the greatest film composer, Erich Korngold, who Reinhardt personally invited to Hollywood to produce the film’s music (incorporating large chunks of Mendelssohn that Korngold rearranged and reorchestrated). The result is perhaps the most dazzling Shakespeare comedy ever committed to celluloid.