A Midsummer Night's Dream
James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell,
The influential Austrian-German theater director Max Reinhardt brings together ballet, classical music, literature, and Expressionist art for this generous Hollywood-by-way-of-Berlin Shakespeare adaptation, a fusing of his ornate theatrical aesthetics with the zippy professionalism of Warner Bros. The musical prelude—a magical symphony of playful fairies and lovers in love with love—sets the tone for one of the studio system’s most sumptuous films, and also introduces the work’s other major (unseen) character: Mendelssohn’s score. Olivia de Havilland (who starred in the stage production) joins a classic Warner Bros. cast of James Cagney, Dick Powell, comic Joe E. Brown, and the teenage Mickey Rooney.