Perhaps William Shakespeare meant to have Lady Macbeth perform her sleepwalking scene in the nude -- it was this X-rated scene and the film's much-publicized spurts of violence, rather than the brilliant performances of Jon Finch as Macbeth and Francesca Annis as his Lady, that lured crowds to Roman Polanski's 1972 adaptation of Macbeth. Only a few critics glommed onto the most impressive aspect of Polanski's version: as Macbeth and his wife sink deeper and deeper into the morass of their murderous ambitions, they age and wither before our eyes (Shakespeare's play does cover several years, but this is usually forgotten or ignored by many actors and directors). Macbeth was financed and released by Playboy, which naturally necessitated a fold-out spread on "the witches of Cawdor." The original Shakespearean text was adapted for the screen by Polanski and Kenneth Tynan. Despite an excellent first week, Macbeth ended up in the red, compelling Hugh Hefner to think twice about future motion-picture projects.
by Hal Erickson synopsis