4. Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight (1965)
If Kozintsev is the great Soviet (Eastern) interpreter of Shakespeare on screen, then Welles (just ahead of Olivier) is the great Western (Hollywood) Shakespeare film-maker. Like so many of his post-Citizen Kane movies, his Chimes at Midnight was a genuine labour of love; it took him years to raise the money to film his stage adaptation of Shakespeare’s history plays, which focused on Falstaff. Clearly, Welles, a true bon viveur himself, identified with Shakespeare’s great fat man, who proudly proclaims: “I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men”. Chimes recasts Falstaff as a genuine tragic hero in his own right, who the callous Prince Hal learns life from but ultimately casts aside. Welles, who had been cast aside by the Hollywood studio system after making its greatest ever film, obviously saw a parallel between himself and Falstaff, and not only in the size of their waistband.