"Romeo and Juliet" Leave it to Italian director Franco Zeffirelli to turn Shakespeare into a hot commodity. Until his lush, erotic version of the Bard's tragedy, the best-known adaptation of "R&J" was the 1936 version starring thirtysomething Norma Shearer and fortysomething Leslie Howard as the ill-fated teen lovers. But in this version, Zeffirelli cast honest-to-god teenagers -- Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting -- in the title roles. Though not the greatest thespians, they were breathtakingly beautiful and even, egads!, naked in one scene. Needless to say, tweens and teens flocked to the film. The Nino Rota score became an overnight sensation and was the fourth-bestselling album of the year. And Henry Mancini also scored with his single version of the theme song. The film was nominated for several Oscars, including best film and director. At a recent 40th anniversary screening in San Francisco, the audience went wild. And Hussey, who was in attendance, told the crowd that she gets e-mails from 12-year-olds who love the film. "Even today, the film still appeals," she said. "To see the way young people react to it is inspiring."
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times