Daily Mail (international edition), April 1999
**thanks to Sarah
Kenneth Branagh deftly twirls Natascha McElhone around the floor in the hope that she will stop "constantly refusing to dance" with him.
The number is the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein-Dorothy Fields song, I Won't Dance, and Branagh has used it in his lavish film of the Bard's Love's Labour's Lost to express the tensions between would-be lovers Berowne and Rosaline.
Branagh has long wanted to make a movie musical and this production, shooting on sound stages at Shepperton Studios - is a homage to musical masters such as Busby Berkely and Bob Fosse.
"It's Fred and Ginger, Cole Porter, the Gershwins and Irving Berlin," Branagh told me before rehearsals.
The story, adapted from Shakespeare, is about four young men (one a king), who vow to be celibate for three years, then promptly fall for the first girls they meet, who just happen to be the Princess of France and her ladies in waiting. Set in a fantasy Oxbridge before World War II, Branagh has cleverly linked songs such as Cheek to Cheek and There's No Business Like Showbusiness (sung in the film by Nathan Lane) to the Bard's centuries-old tale.
Stepping out in the all-singing, all-dancing film are Alicia Silverstone, Adrian Lester, Timothy Spall, Alessandro Nivola, Matthew Lillard, Emily Mortimer, Carmen Ejogo, Geraldine McEwan and Richard Briers.
Branagh has screened 30 minutes of footage at Shepperton to producers led by Harvey Weinstein from Miramax, and executives from Pathe Pictures, Intermedia and the Arts Council.
Weinstein was clearly overjoyed at what he'd seen. "It's sexy, it's funny, and it's smart. People who say musicals aren't made any more will be in for a great surprise," he told me.
The Oscar-winning studio boss added: "This has worked only because you have a director of vision such as Kenneth Branagh."
Weinstein revealed that the film will open at the end of the year, "as an obvious contender for next..."
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