The Taming of the Shrew (1983)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Satire  |   Run Time - 152 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The principals and major supporting actors play their roles boldly in this very physical version of The Taming of the Shrew, which parallels at least somewhat the Raul Julia/Meryl Streep stage version of the same period. Karen Austin as Katherine reminds one of a young Eileen Brennan, in terms of her ability to mix a comedic persona and a sexually provocative demeanor. And the late Franklyn Seales (The Onion Field) brings a powerful physicality -- mitigated by a slightly self-deprecating sense of his own excessive boldness -- to Petruchio. This is also one of the most boldly erotic interpretations of the play to make it to home video, in terms of the interactions between the two leads, which at times make one think of a potential fantasy sequence from Sex and the City or Ally McBeal; director John Allison has had his two leads play their conflict like potential lovers sizing each other up for a decidedly knockabout (and, undoubtedly, memorable) tryst. Austin and Seales must have rehearsed this carefully, or else they left each other with lots of bruises, with their courtship resembling something envisioned by the World Wrestling Federation, except that it looks real. Among the other familiar faces in the cast are Bruce Davison as Tranio, Jay Robinson as a Pedant, Larry Drake as Baptista, and Kay Kuter as Gremio. And on a note that may seem strange to general audiences (but evidently did matter to schools) in the United States, the producers have tailored this presentation specifically to American audiences, emphasizing in the packaging and marketing of this and the other plays in the series that the actors are all Americans who avoid any use of English accents.