Hollywood on Shakespeare and Bacon

We are going to take a look at dialogue from a Oldsmobile car TV commercial , an episode from a cartoon series known as Mr. Peabody and the WayBack Machine , a scene from the film, The Amateur , a scene from the film, Elizabeth and Essex, a short note on the origins of the movie Shakespeare in Love, and see and hear a short animation of Shakespeare from the folks at MTV.

In 1994, Oldsmobile car company ran an ad that was called,"Open Minded." The commercial begins with the traditional Droeshout image of Shakespeare followed by the narrator asking "Do you think Shakespeare wrote the plays?" Then there's a cut to a still frame with the words, "Possibly not." The ad goes on to challenge another traditional idea by asking , "Do you think the Universe started with a big bang?" Again, the words "Possibly Not" appear. The ad goes on to show that the car they are promoting is reliable, dependable in a changing world.

In the 1960's a popular cartoon series appeared in homes across America called "Rocky and Bullwinkle". After the segment was over there appeared a cartoon segment called, "Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine." Both were made by animation genius Jay Ward. "Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine" was a delightful series in which the central characters, Sherman and Mr. Peabody, the know it all character in the form of a dog travel back in time and visit history's famous personalities. One episode begins with Mr. Peabody announcing they are going to visit Mr. William Shakespeare. The scene changes to where our intrepid characters are standing outside an Elizabethan theatre with a sign that says, "Romeo and Zelda" by William Shakespeare.Sherman looks up bewildered by the sign. Let's pick up the dialogue from here....

Sherman- Now playing a new play, Romeo and Zelda?
Mr. Peabody- must be a misprint.
Narrator-But it wasn't, for inside the theatre the play was in rehearsal.
From outside a Balcony, an actor can be heard....
"Zelda, where art thou Zelda?
Mr. Peabody -(narrates) Instead of opening on the Balcony, Juliet or rather Zelda came marching out of the wings of the theatre carrying a large flower pot. She left the stage and went directly to a familiar figure who was sitting all alone in the first row.
Sherman- That must be William Shakespeare Mr. Peabody! Look Zelda's gonna present him with a flower!
Mr. Peabody- She's presenting him with a flower all right......
CLUNK! (Zelda hits Shakespeare over the head with the flower pot. "Zelda" removes her mask and is revealed to be Francis Bacon underneath!) Bacon yells at a dazed Shakespeare, "That'll teach you to steal my plays!"
Sherman- It's a man wearing a disguise!

Mr.Peabody- Francis Bacon, if I'm not mistaken, and I never am.
Shakespeare- Bacon! You'll fry for this!
Sherman- "Oh heart what hollow light burneth in yonder patio!"
(Shakespeare is clutching his sore head while pointing to Sherman and says), E gad,the lad's an ad libber!
(Sherman continues his role as Romeo below the balcony and begins to climb a ladder up to the balcony and says), Zelda, I mean, Juliet, where art thou Juliet?
Peabody-(narrates) You can well imagine Sherman's dismay when instead of a lovely young maiden, a lion appeared with a very loud roar! In one prodigious leap the lion left the balcony and proceeded to empty the theatre.
(the lion turns to go after Mr. Peabody, Sherman, and Shakespeare)
Shakespeare--Run for your lives the performance is canceled!
Peabody- No need to panic, we'll simply ring the curtain down! (the curtain comes crashing down on the lion and knocks him out)
Shakespeare-(holding his brow in shock) The tragedy that this should happen to me! If I find the rogue who owned that beast !!!......
suddenly, Francis Bacon appears again pointing to himself and exclaims... That beast is mine!
Shakespeare (surprised)--Bacon!
Bacon- With eggs!! (Bacon lets fly some eggs that break on Shakespeare's face)

The Amateur a dramatic film that came out in 1982 starring Christopher Plummer, John Savage, Marthe Keller, Arthur Hill, and directed by Charles Jarrott has several scenes in which Francis Bacon and Shakespeare are mentioned. The plot centers around the girlfriend of a CIA computer expert who is murdered. Her boyfriend (Savage's character) decides to doggedly hunt down her killer. In the beginning of his search the Savage character meets with CIA brass to explain how he plans to use Big Bertha, the CIA computer, to run down a facsimile of a 1586 letter from Mary Queen of Scots that portends that she is planning to murder Elizabeth 1st. Savage tells the CIA boss that he is "looking for numerical sequences, acrostics, Elizabethan substitution systems and Bacon's biliteral cyphers." Then there is a scene in which Savage attends a lecture on Shakespeare and Bacon cyphers by a university professor played by Christopher Plumber. Later the two characters meet up on a train ride sharing the same compartment. Let's pick up the conversation:

Savage- I went to your lecture at the University the other day, at least part of it.
Plumber- Ah, You are interested in the subject of Bacon versus Shakespeare?
Savage- I am interested in cyphers.
Plumber- You are a colleague? A visiting professor perhaps? My card, please, (reaches into his pocket) Lakosh, Antonine Lakosh.
Savage- I've heard of you.
Plumber- Although the Bacon Society is my avocation, my occupation is also detection, deciphering of clues, uncovering of the impostor!
Savage- Search for truth.
Plumber-Oh yes, How does it go? "For truth will come to light, murder cannot....
Savage- ...Be hid long. (Pause) William Shakespeare?
Plumber- (slowly says) Francis Bacon.

The 1939 film, Elizabeth and Essex stars Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth, Errol Flynn as Essex and Donald Crisp (how ironic) as Francis Bacon. Although the film portrays an orthodox understanding of the three not as mother and sons it does however illustrate the hot tempered relation between Essex and Elizabeth with Bacon as counselor for both. The following scene is both dramatic and pivotal in regards to the fate of Essex.

Francis Bacon-There's seldom been a man so unwise,so headstrong but he could sometimes see the necessity of keeping friends and not making enemies at court. But you! You quarrel with the Queen because she wanted peace and you wanted war.
Essex- War! There is a war--with Spain! Such a silly frightened woman as only a woman would wait it.
Bacon- Let me answer that. You're not forthright with yourself. You wish to complete your record as general, crush Spain, make a name like Caesar's and climb the pinnacle of fame. You wanted Cadiz and caught the people's hearts. Caught their voices until the streets ring with your name whenever you pass. They care you're too popular already. My lord, you are loved better than the Queen, that's your danger. She will not suffer a subject to eclipse her. She cannot suffer it.
Essex- Make no mistake she will not! So, I must wait, huh? Hold back?
Bacon- Precisely.

Essex- Why? I come from better blood than Elizabeth. My name was among the earl's who stood around the oak with King John. What the nobles once taught a king a noble may teach a queen.
Bacon- You talk treason and death. The old order is dead. You and your house will die with it if you cannot learn. This is Elizabeth we're dealing with!
Essex-What's a devil a king but a man. A queen but a woman!
Bacon-There's one man in all her kingdom that she fears, and that man is yourself. And she has good reason to fear you.
Essex-To fear me? Why? I'm loyal.
Bacon-You're a man not easily governed. Moreover a popular general and acclaimed. And last, she loves you . . . which makes you more to be feared whether you love her or not.
Essex- Love her? (pause) I most certainly do love her.
Bacon- My Lord, a man as young as yourself-
Essex- If she were my mother's kitchen hag, toothless and wooden legged, she still make all the others seem pale and colorless. I tell you she's a witch. She's got a witch's brain. I love her! I hate her! (sighs) I adore her.
Bacon- That side of it you must know for yourself. But my Lord, permit me to caution you. Don't count too much on the loves of queens.
Essex-Thanks schoolmaster Bacon for that sound lecture and the sound advice.
Bacon- Which you probably will not take.
Essex- Which I probably will not.

The hit movie, "Shakespeare in Love" was loosely based on the hilarious fictional book, No Bed For Bacon authored by British writers Caryl Brahms and S. J. Simon first published in 1941. The story imagines that Sir Francis Bacon wishes to acquire a bed that "Queen Elizabeth has slept on to leave his children's children's children as a gilt-edged investment." There is an early scene in the book that begins at the back of the theatre. Bacon is speaking eloquently while Willy Shakesper is seated next him and is tracing his signatures on a pad. However, the film opens with a similar scene with Shaksper writing his name down but they eliminated the Francis Bacon part, in fact Bacon is left out of the entire film!

Hear and see an animated Shakespeare on MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch







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