Romeo and Juliet (1916)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Tragedy  |   Release Date - Oct 22, 1916 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Theda Bara couldn't have gotten any farther away from her vamp roles than the part of Juliet in this silent adaptation of Shakespeare's most romantic play. But she makes a good job of it (considering her archaic acting style) and performs with a passion that Beverly Bayne lacked in the Metro Pictures version of Romeo and Juliet, which was released at the same time. Bayne's Romeo, Francis X. Bushman, however, was far and away better than Harry Hilliard, Bara's leading man. Hilliard, a musical comedy star of the stage, was chosen for the role because of his likeness to Bushman and left movies the year after his film debut. Fox, the studio responsible for this version of Romeo and Juliet, tried to one-up the original author by modifying the death scene -- here, Juliet wakes up on the bier and finds Romeo still alive. They have a final scene together before he dies of the poison he has swallowed. Then, she kills herself. Rewriting Shakespeare was a questionable pursuit, at best.