The result is a Republic Pictures release directed by Welles with him also starring as MacBeth, with Jeanette Nolan as Lady Macbeth, and with Dan O’Herlihy and Roddy McDowall.
John L. Russell handled the cinematography.
Mercury Theatre production, Welles took great liberties, greatly re-working the play. He retained some of the voodoo aesthetic of the play, along with garish costumes.
Charles Higham reports that the actors were annoyed with Welles’ grueling working days and some of his usual directorial antics. This results, in Higham’s opinion, in performances that “seldom rise above the amateur.” On the other hand, says Higham, “the movie creates a world of its own, another expression of Welles’s extraordinary talent--a world of rain, fog and stones...we explore a labyrinth that effectively mirrors MacBeth’s own mind.”
Barbara Leaming’s analysis is “in MacBeth Orson had never intended to make a great film; just to prove a point, to show what could be shot quickly and cheaply.” Republic had offered Welles the director’s role on the condition that he could do the film in three weeks for $800,000. He met both of these conditions, and did so with a film in which many can see plenty of virtues.
SourcesHigham, Charles. Orson Welles: The Rise and Fall of An American Genius. New York: St. Martin’s. 1985.
Leaming, Barbara. Orson Welles. New York: Viking. 1983.