When we speak of old films we’re usually looking at images of performers who died long ago. Some died young like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean. Some had long full lives like Jimmy Stewart or Ginger Rogers.
There was a bit of an anomaly for awhile, in a film I treasure as a personal favorite. It might shock you to think that until recently three different stars of the 1935 Midsummernight’s Dream directed by Max Reinhardt with music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold were still alive: until recently that is.
Mickey Rooney was alive until 2014, the first to leave us & youngest of the three stars I have in mind, passing at the age of 94.
Dancer & choreographer Nini Theilade lived past her 102nd birthday, passing in 2018.
And today Olivia de Havilland departed us in her sleep. She just had her 104th birthday at the beginning of July.
Rooney was Puck.
Theilade was the principal female dancer in two extended ballet sequences, with one or two lines delivered in her accented English.
De Havilland was Hermia.
The film feels like a relic not just because this isn’t how we do Shakespeare anymore. I find it to be one of the most beautiful black & white films I’ve ever seen, and it sounds every bit as remarkable. Korngold adapted his score from Mendelssohn’s music composed in the middle of the 19th century.