“Ladies and Gentlemen, Sir John Falstaff…”

It is difficult to imagine anything like this ever being on television today, let alone a popular show like The Dean Martin Show, aimed at a broad audience. The “skit” is languorous, it takes its time, it is self-conscious in a somewhat hokey way (not a bad thing, theatre often has those qualities), and honest in the same way. It has a sense of humor about itself, and it’s also earnest and serious. Let’s talk about Shakespeare, television audience, and let us just assume that we all have the same frames of reference, because it is important to continue to talk about characters like Falstaff, to keep our hearts and our history alive. It is connected to a time not that long past, of vaudeville and stock companies, and yet also so far away that it might as well be Middle Earth. It’s one of my favorite clips from the Dean Martin Show. It makes me laugh, and I also feel mournful watching it, conscious of a deep soul ache. Part of the reason for that is that I am given the space and the time to even have that response. The producers do not rush me, they do not rush Orson. They let him “do his thing”, and whatever we feel, watching it, we feel. We’re just lucky to still have the clip, to be able to watch it again and again.

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10 Responses to “Ladies and Gentlemen, Sir John Falstaff…”

  1. Thank you, Sheila. That brightened an otherwise dull and boring morning. This goes into my favorites folder for sharing and savoring again over and over.

  2. sheila says:

    Kellie – you are most welcome. It really does the soul good to watch something like that, doesn’t it? It’s self-conscious and totally un-selfconscious all at the same time and I just think it’s beautiful.

  3. DBW says:

    Needs more Whoopi Goldberg and Bill O’Reilly…..not.

  4. phil says:

    Brilliant.
    Of course it is…it’s America’s Greatest Actor.
    I miss him. Hard to believe it’s been 25 years this month.
    Thanks for the clip.

  5. sheila says:

    Phil – I miss him too. What a talent, what a generous crazy spirit. Nobody like him.

  6. sheila says:

    I like how he sucks in his cheeks at one point to get the makeup right. It just breaks my heart for some reason. In a good way.

  7. litdreamer says:

    Sheila, have you seen Chimes at Midnight? It hasn’t been released on DVD here in the states (the fools!), but one can watch it on Youtube. It is an adaptation of Henry IV, Part One and Two, and part of Henry V, and stars Welles as Falstaff (he also directed it).

  8. sheila says:

    Yes, I’ve seen it – fantastic.

  9. Solid Muldoon says:

    Man, it would almost be worth gaining 100 pounds to play that role.

    A good buddy of mine has played Falstaff many times. He never seems happier.

  10. sheila says:

    Solid Muldoon – ha! One of the best characters ever written!

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