Leslie Howard’s Hamlet

In one of my previous posts, Leslie Howard’s Hamlet Praised, I reproduced a review published in The Lewiston Daily Sun of November 17, 1936.

Here I give you the links to other documents related to Leslie Howard’s Hamlet. I think these documents are worth reading; Leslie Howard’s production deserves more attention than it generally receives, being often and quite hastily dismissed as a failure. It wasn’t. The production was favourably reviewed in Boston and Philadelphia, and after the “limited engagement” at the Imperial Theatre (though the production was flourishing at the box-office, Leslie was annoyed with the unhappy situation and closed the play in December 1936), the long tour around the United States was a great success.

Just a note, to point out–quite ironically, if you allow me–that one of the most severe judgements (a venomous one, though mitigated in a subsequent article) was expressed by John Mason Brown, the same critic who, in an article published in 1935 (Leslie Howard’s Skill as an Actor), had urged Leslie Howard to “enlarge his field”, wondering “why a man who ought to make an interesting Hamlet, who could play the luckless king who is known to the stage as either Richard II or Richard of Bordeaux, and Galworthy’s Falder, and any number of other parts should have elected to be so unadventurous in moulding his career as an actor”.

I won’t venture any hypotheses on why the New York critics tried to sank Leslie’s production, though I certainly have my ideas. However, Hamlet remained one of Leslie’s greatest loves and ambitions till the end of his life. The pages his son Ronald wrote about the project of a film version and the preparation of Leslie’s lectures on Hamlet during the fateful tour in Portugal and Spain, are deeply moving, and we cannot but regret that his projects remained incomplete.

Leslie Howard as Hamlet, 1936

Leslie Howard talks about his production

  • Hamlet… 1936 by Leslie Howard, originally published in the Stage magazine, November 1936, then reproduced in the programme. Also published in Trivial Fond Records, 1982

Photo Galleries

Playbills and Programmes (pdf files)

Reviews and Articles (work in progress: many other documents will be added)

Other Links

hamlet by valente c

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