By Daniel McDonald Johnson

USC Salkehatchie Head Librarian

The Taming of the Shrew starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton will be shown Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre in Allendale. Superstars Taylor and Burton chose to make a movie version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew to capitalize on their image –onscreen and off-screen – as a contentious couple. Onscreen, their previous movie Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf examined a husband and wife waging emotional warfare. Off-screen, their marriage was so tumultuous that it ended in divorce, while their attraction was so strong that they later married again and divorced again. They invested two million dollars in The Taming of the Shrew and reaped profits when audiences packed theaters after the movie was released in 1967.

The Taylor-Burton extravaganza will be the first of three film adaptations of Shakespeare’s play in a series sponsored by the USC Salkehatchie Library and presented at the Carolina Theatre. Admission is free and open to the public. Show times on Sundays at 3 p.m. will allow residents of anywhere in the Salkehatchie region to return home before dark.

The series continues Sept. 20 with The Taming of the Shrew performed in commedia dell’ arte style by the American Conservatory Theatre and concludes on Sept. 27 with the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You.

In William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, a woman’s anger toward her father and sister makes her seem unsuitable for marriage. When her father offers a large dowry, one man accepts the challenge of marrying her. Strife fills the early days of their marriage as the man forces the woman into socially acceptable behavior. As time goes by, they build a happy marriage.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton transformed Shakespeare’s play into a battle-of-the-sexes movie, a genre that was popular in the 1960s. To shape the movie to fit its stars, the scriptwriters eliminated more than half of Shakespeare’s text and inserted new lines. As a result, offensive sexism is more pronounced in the movie than in the play.

Director Franco Zeffirelli – in his first of several opportunities to over-hype a Shakespeare play – revels in elaborate sets, huge crowds and rollicking chases. Opulent costumes highlight Taylor’s flashing eyes and voluptuous body. Burton’s powerful voice soars above exuberant music.

More of a box-office hit than a critical success, the movie was nominated for Oscars for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and for Best Costume Design.