Bard goes big-screen in library film series

Film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays stretch back to the silent era - think about that for a moment - and Sam Shapiro, who curates film programs for the Public Library, has put together a summer-long Saturday series with some doozies.

The screenings are 1:30 p.m. at ImaginOn and Shapiro introduces each.

"As You Like It" (July 9) - Kenneth Branagh's freewheeling adaptation of the romantic comedy in which Rosalind finds love in the forest. She is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, and this 2006 version - which has not run theatrically here - takes place in Japan and comes with ninjas and sumo wrestlers.

"Romeo and Juliet" (July 16) - Franco Zeffirelli's sumptuous 1968 production starred teens Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting as the star-crossed lovers and won Oscars for costumes and cinematography.

"The Taming of the Shrew" (July 23) - More Franco Zeffirelli, this time with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton brawling through the broad, bawdy comedy at a time when they were the most famous Hollywood couple alive.

"Richard III" (July 30) - Laurence Olivier, serving up the best kind of ham, directed and starred as the hunchbacked ruler who kills his nephews and everyone else who annoys him to stay on the throne.

"Hamlet" (Aug. 6) - This modernized, shortened BBC version stars David Tennant as the melancholy, vengeful Dane and Patrick Stewart as his uncle, a conscience-stricken ruler trying to hold onto his crown.

"Macbeth" (Aug. 13) - Roman Polanski's version, once controversial because of its extreme violence and nude sleepwalking scene, stars Jon Finch and Francesca Annis. It came halfway between "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown."

"Throne of Blood" (Sept. 3) - Toshiro Mifune stars as the murderous monarch (based on Macbeth) in this version by Akiro Kurosawa, who emphasized the supernatural elements and transferred the setting to feudal Japan. (The original Japanese title translates as "Spider Web Castle.")

"Henry V" (Sept. 10) - Kenneth Branagh made his name directing and starring in this 1989 version, which stressed the grit of battle and court intrigues over Olivier's older vision of patriotism and nobility.