Nicole (1978) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This film is also known as The Widow's Revenge, Crazed, and William Shakespeare's Cardenio.

Most scholars believe with some degree of certainty that Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. There are, however, fifteen other plays which Shakespeare may have written in part or whole. Within that canon, thirteen plays are extant, the other two have been considered lost. The most commonly cited work of the disputed canon is "The Two Noble Kinsman," which was published in a quarto in 1634. The original publication clearly attributed Shakespeare and John Fletcher, but nobody can determine precisely what Shakespeare contributed to the work. Twelve other plays are considered Shakespearian apocrypha, about which scholars debate vociferously: "Locrine", "The London Prodigal", "The Puritan", "Thomas, Lord Cromwell", "Sir John Oldcastle", "Arden of Feversham", "A Yorkshire Tragedy", "The Birth of Merlin", "Edward III", "Fair Em", "Mucedorus", and "The Merry Devil of Edmonton." Finally, there are two plays which were not thought to have survived to modern times in even fragmentary form. They are "Love's Labor's Won" and "Cardenio."

"Love's Labour's Won" is still lost, but it was not very long ago that Louis Horvath, a great Hungarian antiquarian and scholar, found a copy of "Cardenio" buried in a backyard near the home of Shakespeare's parents in Stratford. Devouring it immediately at the very location in which he found it, his eyes darted from word to word, as his fingers pried apart page after page of forgotten genius until he had read the entire play in one sitting, gradually becoming aware that he had encountered not just a lesser Shakespearian footnote, but possibly the greatest of Shakespeare's plays, and thus possibly the greatest work of literary genius ever penned in any language during the full duration of mankind's stay upon this planet. Sadly, he had become so enrapt in the plot's dazzling invention and so mesmerized by the celestial beauty of the language that he had forgotten to take the necessary measures to preserve the documents. The harsh toxicity of our 20th century atmosphere, combined with the oils from Horvath's fingers and the tears of emotion wrung from him by the sheer power of the poetry, had wreaked havoc upon the fragile parchments so long hidden from sunlight. No legible fragments survived. Horvath immediately ran to secure pens and paper, and began scribbling feverishly in his effort to right his error, at least to the extent still possible, and to recreate as much of the script as he could while the memories remained fresh. Together with his countryman Istvan Ventilla, Horvath assembled his recreation into the film called Nicole.

Shakespeare begins the play with a minor character. A simple coachman finds his wife with his best friend and kills them both "in manner most ignoble." His act is witnessed by a countess, but he is shocked to discover that the countess has no intention of seeing this man "suffer the harsh flames of the king's rectitude." The coachman knows he has done wrong, is loyal to his blessed king, and feels he should not try to elude the executioner's axe, but the countess persuades him otherwise. It is not long before her madness is evident, but the coachman's fate is by then inextricably entangled with that of the countess. His participation in the murders is to be hidden for as long as he is willing to do the countess's insane bidding.

Whilst in her employ, he is to assist the countess in securing a sexual dalliance with a certain local coachmaker, then expanding that dalliance to include a young maiden who resembles the countess herself. Those familiar with Shakespeare's other plays will undoubtedly anticipate that the similar appearance of the women promises that, in the bard's own words, "merriment doth oft transpire and hilarity ensueth." Sadly for the maiden, the coachmaker, and the coachman, the steady decline of the countess's mental health forebodes ill for all. In a typically convoluted Shakespearian conceit, the countess plans to fortify her palace's defenses with great beasts, thus ensuring that she will be able to maintain the harmony within, safe from the meddling, corruption, and temptations of the outside world. (Thus reflecting similar themes in The Tempest, which Shakespeare wrote during the same time period.) Like Prospero's schemes, Countess Nicola's go astray in a flurry of typical Elizabethan ironies. The beasts, which Nicola hoped to employ as protection for her maiden, ended up devouring the poor girl. Nicola's other mad schemes caused similarly tragic fates for her other acquaintances, until she was left alone in her palace, dressed in perpetual mourning.

Unfortunately, the film may not perfectly reflect Shakespeare's intentions, since it has been filtered through the imperfect recollections of a writer whose other works include "Blazing Stewardesses," but this film is the best record we have, and we must give thanks for this much. Since the author of the film script is no longer with us, and we have no other record of Shakespeare's lost play, all of mankind can be thankful that certain film preservation societies have now restored this damaged, obscure film to digital health and glory.

For our specific purposes at the Movie House, we can revel in this restoration for even more reasons. First, it represents Shakespeare's only known indulgence in the more explicit details of "the saporous Sapphic supper," or as we like to call it today, carpet-munching. We can count ourselves even more fortunate that we do not live in Shakespeare's time, when the critical female roles of the Countess Nicola and her maiden would have been played by men. In the 20th century the young maiden could be played by a certain "Kathy Bach," direct descendant of composer P.D.Q. Bach and former co-star of a television show called "The Dukes of Hazzard," which some claim to be based on another of Shakespeare's lost works. Most serendipitous of all, Miss Bach and Leslie Caron perform various scenes in degrees of undress. It would be the only exposure of Miss Bach's career, and one of only two times Miss Caron would expose a breast in her own long and distinguished time in the limelight.



  • full screen. A rough transfer, the best parts not much better than VHS quality.
  • some minor features. An introduction by Troma's Lloyd Kaufman, a skintastic analysis by Mr Skin, and a featurette on the contribution of lesbianism to Troma's history.



  • Leslie Caron shows one breast in a sex scene.
  • Catherine Bach shows her excellent bosom in two scenes.

The Critics Vote ...

  •  No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 4.7/10, which is incomprehensibly high
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's an F, a hopelessly incoherent, poorly photographed, and amateurishly performed mess which has no redemptive virtue save the breasts of Leslie Caron and ol' Daisy Duke.

Return to the Movie House home page