Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hamlet on Gilligan's Island

On Friday I reviewed the Best Picture 1948 film, Hamlet. (You can read the review here if you are so inclined.) What I failed to mention in that article, however, was that my first exposure to the play and my favorite version came from the third season of Gilligan's Island. "The Producer" was written by Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso and directed by the great Ida Lupino. This episode guest-stars the comedian Phil Silvers as Harold Hecuba, famous Hollywood producer. He lands on the island during a world-wide talent search, and the egomaniac makes himself comfortable until he is ready to leave. The castaways try to convince him to leave quickly by tempting him with a sure-fire hit. So they put on a musical version of Hamlet. The idea is that if he likes it, he'll want to take them all back to civilization to get it started as quickly as possible. He does like it, but decides to steal the idea for himself, leaving the castaways stranded. The castaways met a lot of mean people on that island of theirs.
Phil Silvers was perfectly cast as the conniving, self-centered, no-talent producer, director, star Harold Hecuba. He sees the castaways' rehearsal of the show but then insists on showing them how it is done. He presents his own version, "Produced by Harold Hecuba, Directed by Harold Hecuba, Starring....Harold Hecuba!" I couldn't help but think this was a gentle nudge against Laurence Olivier, who did indeed produce, direct, and star in Hamlet in 1947.
The musical version of Hamlet that the castaways present uses The Toreador Song from the opera Carmen (by Bizet) and Belle nuit o nuite d'amour from the opera The Tales of Hoffman (by Offenbach).

Hamlet: Gilligan (Bob Denver)
Ophelia: Ginger (Tina Louise)
Claudius: Mr. Howell (Jim Backus)
Gertrude: Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schafer)
Polonius: The Skipper (Alan Hale)
Laertes: Mary Ann (Dawn Wells)
The Professor (Russell Johnson) is shown to be the Tech Crew (music, light, and curtain duties).

I dare you to watch these songs and not find this entertaining.

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