By Tim Purtell
August 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935 film)

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William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream with James Cagney? And Dick Powell, Joe E. Brown, and a 15-year-old Mickey Rooney? Actually, with the exception of Brown, they’re all pretty good. At its best, Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle’s sparkly 1935 take on the Bard’s dreamiest play has the antic, screwball verve of a Fleischer brothers cartoon. Cagney, as Bottom, mimes marvelously, his hands delicately feeling out his new donkey ears and snout. Powell’s Lysander plays like a variation on his wavy-haired Busby Berkeley horndogs; Olivia de Havilland, in her screen debut, makes a fiery Hermia. But the real draw is Rooney — giggling, cackling, and tossing about with reckless abandon, his Puck a miraculous embodiment of mischief. EXTRAS According to historian Scott MacQueen’s commentary, Cagney took a no-nonsense approach to playing Bottom: ”The son-of-a-bitch was a ham.” B

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935 film)

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