Joe Macbeth

Film

Gangster films

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Time Out says

A somewhat misbegotten attempt to transpose Macbeth as a gangster movie, though by no means the total disaster as which it was generally written off. The main problem, aside from the British studio stab at a New York '30s ambience, is the pedantically literal adaptation by Philip Yordan, which seems to be constantly inviting recognition for its daring by drawing needless attention to its source (even the names are uncomfortably echoed, Banquo becoming Banky, for instance). Some of the transpositions work (the three witches as an old flower-seller outside a nightclub), others emphatically do not (Banquo's ghost materialising unconvincingly at a country-house dinner). If the end result is disappointingly hollow, it is often directed with style: the gangland execution in a deserted nightclub at the beginning; the murder of 'Duncan' (Aslan) as he takes an early morning dip in a lake; the eerie self-haunting of Macbeth (Douglas, really rather good), left deserted in his castle by the defection of the two murderer-hoods and the madness of his wife. A distinct curate's egg oddity.
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Release details

UK release:

1955

Duration:

90 mins

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